Houbara are prey for falcons and the IFHC wants falconers to realise their role in conservation of the species. Sarah Dea/ The National
Houbara are prey for falcons and the IFHC wants falconers to realise their role in conservation of the species. Sarah Dea/ The National

Falconers bear responsibility for conserving Houbara bustard

Falconers are ultimately responsible for conserving the Houbara bustard, visitors and competitors at the Third International Falconry Festival in Abu Dhabi said. In a survey conducted by the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) during the event, 74 per cent of participants agreed that falconers should seek to ensure wild Houbara, often prey for the hunting birds, thrive for generations to come.

“At the IFHC, we are constantly working to rein in their harmful effects on the Houbara through our captive breeding and release programme, supported by ecological studies and partnerships with both falconers and governments,” said Mohammed Al Baidani, director general of IFHC.The fund collected responses from about 350 falconers, 60 of whom were from the Gulf and 109 from the Middle East, North Africa and south Asia.

Despite a belief in sustainable hunting, those surveyed felt that hunting regulations were neither properly implemented by governments nor adhered to by hunters at large.

“Poaching and the black market trade continue to significantly affect many vulnerable and endangered species across the globe,” Mr Al Baidani said.

Of the 80 per cent of falconers aware of their countries’ restrictions on hunting Houbara, only 57 per cent felt that those regulations were adequately implemented and enforced while more than half of those felt that tougher rules should be in place to protect the Houbara.

“The results of this survey are significant as they reflect the high level of awareness among the international falconry community of the threat the Houbara face, and specifically among the Emirati community,” Mr Al Baidani said. “Furthermore, the survey will also help us to highlight those areas where more work is to be done to help further the plight of this vulnerable species.”

In the UAE, 94 per cent of Emirati falconers said that they were aware of hunting regulations in the country but only 76 per cent felt that they were properly enforced.



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