Abu Dhabi: Etihad Cargo and the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC), one of the world’s leading conservation programmes, have recently transported a shipment of more than 100 vulnerable Houbara bustards for release into their natural habitats.
In the past three years, the partnership between the two organisations has led to the successful relocation and integration into the wild of more than 3,000 Houbara across the world, said a press release issued by Etihad and IFHC on Wednesday.
The venture, which is part of the Shaikh Khalifa Houbara Reintroduction Programme, began in 2014, when the two organisations signed a partnership agreement. In 2017 alone, more than 2,000 birds were transported safely to countries in Asia and North Africa, which have more hospitable environments, thereby increasing the birds’ long-term survival.
The Houbara birds are bred in centres in Abu Dhabi, managed by IFHC, and then released into their natural habitats in countries across the world.
Justin Carr, vice-president of Etihad Cargo, said: “Our motto is ‘From Abu Dhabi to the world’ and it is literally the case with our partnership with IFHC.”
Commenting on the partnership, Mohammad Saleh Al Baidani, director-general of IFHC, said: “The range of the Houbara stretches from Morocco to Mongolia, so it is critical that we are able to move the birds from Abu Dhabi to countries across the species’ range safely and securely. We are helping restore the iconic Houbara to countries where it has been in historic decline. It is another example of how Abu Dhabi is leading the way, both in conservation and commerce.”
Abu Dhabi’s Houbara programme was initiated over 40 years ago by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the UAE, to restore sustainable wild populations of the species to the areas of the world where they were under threat of extinction. In 2016, Etihad Airways signed the Buckingham Palace Declaration, as a demonstration of support for the prevention of trade in illegal wildlife. The UAE is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) and the airline provides the necessary support to help ensure that wildlife controlled under Cites is not carried unless the necessary paperwork is in order.