220 CAPTIVE-BRED HOUBARA BUSTARDS WILL BE RELEASED IN PUNJAB
Houbara Foundation International Pakistan will soon release 220 Houbara bustards bred in Abu Dhabi. These birds are from the blood-line of Pakistan’s resident species and are being donated by the International Fund for Houbara Conservation based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, to augment Pakistan’s current population of the species in the wild. It was decided in a meeting held between Director General Wildlife and Parks Punjab Khalid Ayaz Khan and President Houbara Foundation International Pakistan Brigadier Mukhtar Ahmed (Retd) here on Monday.
The said release will add to several releases of Houbara donated by the International Fund in previous years. The last such release of 600 birds took place in Pakistan in March 2015. DG Wildlife was informed that birds have been examined and certified fit for travel by air. On this, DG Wildlife said that before actually moving, the birds will be closely examined again for their physical condition, to discard any unfit individual.
DG Wildlife Khalid Ayaz Khan on behalf of the department and President Houbara Foundation Pakistan Mukhtar on behalf of the establishment of Abu Dhabi exchanged export and import permits along with necessary NOC and hoped that since the birds are of the blood-line of Pakistan’s resident, most of the birds will settle for breeding to repopulate the Pakistani resident Houbara bustard and would also help in keeping houbara population at normal size.
President Houbara Foundation Pakistan Mukhtar said that revolutionary success has been achieved in breeding programme. He said that a record number of Houbara have been produced across their state-of-the-art breeding centres. He said that release of a number of captive-bred birds will help sustain existing wild population. He said that within one decade, the annual production of Houbara has risen from 979 in 2003 to 40,011 in 2013.
Ever since the breeding programme began, over 200,000 Houbara have been bred. Of these, around 137,000 birds have been released into the wild. International Fund is now close to achieving its objective of producing 50,000 Houbara every year. He said that all the birds which are being released in the province, have been individually tagged with identification rings, while selected birds are also tagged with satellite transmitters for scientists to carry out monitoring of the birds after release and record their movements, habitat preferences and the ability to breed.
After the release, the data will be generated bi-weekly, in order to detect movements and breeding behaviours. Locations will be communicated to Houbara Foundation International Pakistan for field validation and further investigations. Later, DG Wildlife Khalid Ayaz Khan and President Houbara Foundation Pakistan Brigadier Mukhtar (Retd) assured each other full cooperation for the betterment of wildlife and its development.