posted on 05/06/2012: 971 views
A rare and precious cargo flown in recently by a UAE Air force cargo plane will complement an on-going conservation programme which helps with the greening UAE's deserts and enhances food security.
The Air Force C-17 plane transported birds listed as endangered and which played a significant role in the history and culture of the country.
The Abu Dhabi based International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) transferred 5,270 Asian Houbara bustards from Morocco to Abu Dhabi. All of them landed safely in Abu Dhabi after a 6,000 kilometres flight.
Houbara bustards are large-bodied birds with long legs and a slender neck.
The transfer of birds is part of the fund's global programme for conserving the endangered Houbara bustard.
Several indigenous plants were planted in the arid deserts of the country to protect natural habitats of Houbara bustards as part of the programme. They have helped increasing the green cover in the country. Houbaras being an important link in the food chain, the programme to increase their population in turn helps agriculture and thus enhances food security.
Mohammad Ahmad Al Bowardi, Deputy Chairman of the fund said this important milestone will go a long way to meeting the strategy of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and enable future generations to know about a bird so important to local culture. He particularly thanked the UAE air force for the vital part it played in safely delivering such a precious cargo.
Mohammad Saleh Al Baidani, Director General of the fund , said, with the transfer, Houbara breeding will eventually increase to almost 10,000 birds bred every year to meet the target of the UAE president. The majority of the captive-bred Houbara will be released to help fulfil the vision of Sheikh Zayed for restoring sustainable, wild populations of the endangered Houbara bustard.
The transfer is the culmination of many years of planning as the fund expands a programme which already represents one of the world's major conservation projects. The flock of Asian Houbara had been bred over a number of years at the Emirates Centre for Wildlife Propagation (ECWP) in Morocco.
Al Baidani, who was on the flight said: "Thankfully it was a safe flight and all credit must go to our pilots. These 5,270 Houbara have completed a very unique journey.” After the plane landed at Abu Dhabi some of the birds were transferred to the fund's new centre at Saih Al Salam and some to the National Avian Research Centre in Sweihan.
With the new centre at Saih Al Salam due to open this year, it was decided to transfer the birds so breeding can start this year, he said. "Although the new centre is not totally completed, the buildings for breeding are operational and the transfer means we can continue to increase the numbers of Houbara we breed and, subsequently, release [them] into the wild, as part of the ‘Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Reintroduction Project',” he said. – Gulf News
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