Abu Dhabi: Five hundred captive-bred houbara bustards were released last week in the wilds of Algeria by the Abu Dhabi-based National Avian Research Centre (Narc).

Present at the release ceremony in Al Abyadh Sidi Al Shaikh in Al Beidh province was Dr Nigel Collar, director of Narc and representative of BirdLife International, a global alliance of conservation organisations working together for the world's birds and people. Also present were officials from the Algerian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and representatives of hunter societies and wildlife enthusiasts.

Collar said Algeria is one of the natural habitats of the endangered North African houbara bustard which now faces extinction due to hunting. "The places were carefully selected to provide the released birds a natural and appropriate diet," he added.

The birds were raised at the National Avian Research Centre.