Global conference highlights challenges and opportunities in Houbara conservation efforts
ABU DHABI, 29th September 2021 (WAM) – The International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC), an organisation dedicated to the conservation of bustard species, held its inaugural conference of the IFHC Global Conservation Series from September 27 to 29.
The virtual event titled “Advanced Research in Bustard Ecology and Conservation”, bought together leading academics, scientists, researchers, and NGOs to discuss challenges encountered – and solutions adopted – in the conservation of bustards and their ecology.
It also provided a multidisciplinary platform for government officials, and researchers to exchange ideas and experiences and provide recommendations on the conservation of the bustard species.
“The landmark project has not just restored the Houbara population through its breeding programme, producing 629,000 houbaras, of which over 487,000 have been used for conservation actions,” said Mohammed Saleh Al Baidani, Director General at the IFHC.
“It has also inspired research work leading to more than 450 scientific communications, forged 140 scientific partnerships around the world, sponsored about 90 students pursuing masters and research in conservation, as well as creating internship opportunities for Emiratis, all of which have contributed to knowledge transfer and better conservation of the vulnerable species, which is nonetheless emblematic of Arab culture.
Our activities and initiatives have resulted in the birth through artificial insemination of an Arabian bustard chick, marking a world-first for conservation.
He explained that the research and conservation project had for example led to the discovery of the distinct migration corridors and timings of the Asian houbara populations from East Asia and Central Asia.
“This is an important outcome of our research programme.
Based on studies such as these, we have developed the much-needed breeding and release protocols.
Among the 26 species of bustard worldwide, knowledge on their ecology and conservation is strongly unbalanced, with few species benefiting from advanced research and effective conservation actions.
All bustard species, even those not yet under concern, could benefit from sharing expertise.
The conference included deliberations on topics comprising “Ecology and Behaviour”; “Breeding Biology and Captive Population Management” and “Population Demography”.
The conference offered an opportunity to strengthen connections among bustard scientists and conservationists and develop further international cooperation for securing the future of bustards.