The UAE has been carrying out an ambitious programme since 1970s to conserve the houbara bustard, a large-bodied bird, with long legs and a slender neck that has been synonymous with Arab culture and an integral part of traditional Emirati hunts.
This programme has helped socio-economic development around protected areas in the bird’s range countries, from Morocco to Mongolia, a top official told Gulf News on Sunday.
The Houbara Conservation UAE programme has made a positive impact on ecosystems [in those countries]. The life comes back easily there and flora and fauna grow up, which helps improve the agriculture [in the surrounding areas]. This enriches the livelihood of farmers and farmworkers,” said Dr Thani Bin Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment.
The houbara habitats are hotspots of recreational hunting that has augmented ecotourism, offering opportunities of jobs and enterprises for local communities, he said on the sidelines of an international summit on the conservation of the houbara in Abu Dhabi, organised by the UAE’s International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC).
The houbara conservation programme supported by the UAE has helped women’s empowerment in villages surrounding the protected areas in Jordan. The conservation projects have boosted ecotourism and local communities make 350 organic products for tourists and earn money, said Khalid Irani of Jordan Royal Society for Conservation of Nature.
The International Fund for Houbara Conservation UAE is the global leader in Houbara bustard conservation. A global conservation strategy was developed and implemented over the past forty years with the objective of ensuring the species has a sustainable future in the wild through effective and appropriate conservation programmes and management plans.The IHFC was created in 2006 to further the original programme by managing international assets and securing partnerships across the range of the houbara, which encourage sustainable practices to ensure the species’ conservation.