Ministry of Climate Change co-hosts regional dialogue on illegal trade of Houbaras and Falcons
DUBAI, 11th October, 2021 – The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCAE) and the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) co-hosted the Regional Dialogue on the Illegal Trade of Houbaras and Falcons.
Mohamed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Deputy Chairman of IFHC Board, and Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, attended the event.
The forum, themed ‘Tackling Illegal Trade of Falcons and Houbaras: Towards a Concerted Regional Effort’ took place as part of the Climate and Biodiversity Week at Expo 2020 Dubai.
The dialogue drew the participation of representatives of environment ministries and authorities from the region and the administrative authority of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in the UAE, as well as elite conservation scientists and experts.
The event served as a platform to review the status of illegal trade of falcons and houbaras, highlight challenges specific to the region, and formulate recommendations for tackling the illegal trade and ensuring the survival of the species.
The dialogue sought to drive concerted regional efforts to protect, breed, and regulate the trade of houbaras and falcons.
Al Bowardi said, “Today, the UAE is spearheading several international initiatives that enjoy the support of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund including the pilot project to prevent raptor electrocution in Mongolia, which has saved the lives of over 20,000 birds, including 4,000 Al Hurr falcons.
Falcons and Houbaras are integral parts of the cultural heritage and social values of the people of the GCC and nearly seventy countries ranging from China in the east to the USA in the west.
He added that the forum will come up with important recommendations on developing joint frameworks to combat this illegal trade as it represents one of the biggest challenges facing the sustainability of wild houbara and falcon populations.
In her welcoming remarks, Almheiri stated, “Preserving and sustaining biodiversity, particularly endangered species that are under increasing pressure from illegal trade, is a strategic priority of the UAE.
Owing to its wise leadership’s vision, the country developed an integrated approach that includes legislation, initiatives, and programs aimed at protecting the species from threats that could lead to their extinction, such as illegal trade, breeding the birds, and releasing them into the wild.
She added, “Houbara bustards and falcons hold special value in the heritage and culture of our region, particularly the UAE.
Therefore, the country works relentlessly to protect them through joining relevant international agreements, such as CITES, and issuing effective laws.
The UAE regulates the trade and cross-border movement of the species through import and export permits, CITES certificates, and passports.
The country has multiple breeding centres for houbara bustards and falcons that run breeding and release programmes, and a specialised hospital that provides comprehensive veterinary care exclusively for the birds.
It also organises international events to promote global synergies for their protection.
Majid Ali Al Mansouri, Managing Director of IFHC, expressed his confidence that the event will culminate in the establishment of a regional working group to develop and implement a unified approach to protect falcons and houbara and preserve Arab falconry traditions.
The participants also reviewed case studies from Jordan and Pakistan.