Better control programmes needed to regulate UAE fox population

Red foxes' penchant for the houbara bird have made people in the UAE see them as a nuisance.

Powered by automated translation

ABU DHABI // Selective control programmes are needed to safely regulate the red fox population, which owes part of its unpopularity in the Arabian Gulf to its taste for the houbara bustard bird.

“There are regulations programmes of the fox population and the main problem is the methods we use to track or kill the red fox are not selective at all,” said Dr Jacky Judas, of the World Wide Fund for Nature. “By targeting red foxes, they may put out poison that kills sand cats or raptors.”

Dr Judas, a former regional coordination manager in ecology and conservation at the National Avian Research Centre, added that “solutions are not easy”.

“The problem is, releasing naïve houbaras in high numbers will attract and increase the population of predators. The best way would be to keep the right balance between the density of the houbara, their habitat and predators,” she said.

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi provides specific guidelines and is developing a framework for population control in desert and urban Abu Dhabi environments.

“We are working towards this,” Dr Salim Javed, manager of terrestrial assessment and conservation at the agency. “We have guidelines but, at the moment, it’s happening with specific requests. It has to be rolled out as a more comprehensive guideline.

“Those things will happen in due course to make sure that, inadvertently, people don’t impact not only this but also other target species.”