Houbara Bustards released in Algeria

Some good news:

ABU DHABI: 500 captive-bred houbara bustards were released last week in the wild in Algeria by Abu Dhabi-based National Avian Research Center (NARC).

Present at the release ceremony in Al Abyadh Sidi Al Sheikh in Al Beidh province were Dr. Nigel Collar, Director of NARC and representative of BirdLife International, a global alliance of conservation organizations working together for the world's birds and people, officials of the Algerian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and representatives of hunters societies and wildlife enthusiasts.

Collar said Algeria is one of the natural habitat for the endangered North African houbara bustard which now faces extinction due to over-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 (NARC) as part of efforts to protect houbara bustards and its plan to increase its population in their natural habitats across Asia and North Africa.

The houbara lives in remote, empty expanses of desert and semi-desert plains and steppes. It is an opportunistic feeder - eating a variety of plants, seeds and berries as well as ants, locusts, spiders and scorpions. Houbara bustards also eat small lizards, mice and the young chicks of some other birds.
"Hunting is part of the national heritage of Arab and Gulf countries. A draft agreement on increasing houbara bustard population is being prepared by NARC and BirdLife International," Collar further said.

© Emirates News Agency (WAM) 2011.

A male Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) displaying, ECWP, eastern Morocco (Photo: Christophe Gouraud).

- El Abiodh Sidi Cheikh is a municipality in the wilaya of El Bayadh in western Algeria. The location is only distant of about 120-140 Km from the Moroccan border.

- By mentioning Asia, the report news speaks about the houbara bustard as one species, while the former houbara have been split by most taxonomic authorities into two species: the Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) in Africa estwards to the Sinai Peninsula and the MacQueen's Bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii) in Asia.