Dubai: The International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) has announced the first-ever successful birth of the Arabian bustard (Ardeotis arabs) through artificial insemination.
The procedure was completed at Abu Dhabi’s National Avian Research Centre (NARC), one of four dedicated IFHC breeding and research centres. The birth is seen an important step towards the eventual return of the Arabian bustard, classified as Near Threatened (NT) by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to hunting and habitat degeneration, to its native habitats in Africa’s Sahel region and the south-western Arabian peninsula.
A study, conducted by Abu Dhabi’s National Avian Research Centre (NARC), took nearly two years, and succeeded in developing a special technique for artificial insemination. Following an incubation period of 22 days, the chick hatched into the world, weighing 66 grams. The mother is a six-year-old Arabian bustard, both she and the father were bred in captivity as part of IFHC’s breeding programme.
“The birth of this Arabian bustard chick is a significant moment in Abu Dhabi’s efforts to conserve vulnerable species. This historic hatchling is a moment to celebrate, but it is only the beginning of our future efforts to preserve the Arabian bustard species,” said Majid Al Mansouri, Managing Director, IFHC.
42 chicks bred
IFHC’s Arabian bustard breeding programme has successfully bred 42 chicks in captivity in the current season and the historic breeding by artificial insemination will be followed by many more in the coming months.
IFHC conducted extensive field research and satellite tracking to gain a greater understanding of Houbara behaviour in order to establish global best practice for resettlement. The model draws inspiration from late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who launched the Abu Dhabi Houbara programme more than 40 years ago.
The Arabian bustard is native to 20 countries across the African Sahel region and southwest Arabian Peninsula, where its numbers have witnessed a great decline in the wild in recent years as a result of hunting and habitat degradation.
Established in 1989 Abu Dhabi, NARC was the first specialised breeding and research facility for the Asian houbara bustard and other bustard species.