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Sir Bani Yas nature reserve welcomes 20 new Houbara birds
March 13, 2015
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ABU DHABI: Sir Bani Yas, the award-winning nature and wildlife island reserve located in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi’s western region, welcomed 20 Houbara Bustards (Chlamydotis undulata macqueenii) to its wildlife population.

The introduction of these unique birds is the result of joint efforts led by the Department of Presidential Affairs, the Sir Bani Yas Conservation Team and Barari Forest Management – which manages the fauna and flora on the island on behalf of Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC).

Classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the birds have been currently placed near the Arabian Wildlife Park.

“We’re proud that Sir Bani Yas’s strong conservation record has set it apart as a place to implement successful wildlife initiatives, building on the vision that the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan had for the island. We are also pleased to be a part of the efforts being undertaken to save the Houbara, which is an important bird species in the UAE. The flock will be strictly monitored and we hope the birds will begin to breed, marking a great achievement for all involved in this important project,” said Marius Prinsloo, General Manager of Sir Bani Yas Corporate Operations.

Houbara Bustards can be identified by their mottled brown top and white underside, with black stripes along their neck. The sexes are similar, but the female is smaller and greyer. The Houbara males have a flamboyant courtship display, whereby the male struts around in full display, with raised white feathers on the head and around the throat. This species is omnivorous, eating seeds, insects and other small creatures, having adapted to arid conditions with little vegetation. They can be found in stony and sandy desert and semi-desert regions, ranging from Russia and the Middle East to areas in North Africa, as well as various Asian countries. They are widely prized as a quarry for falconers, and widespread hunting, poaching and loss of habitat have greatly reduced their numbers.

Malik Rapaie, Manager Wildlife and Conservation Services for Barari Forrest Management, said: “Releasing a species into the wild requires the involvement of multi-phased procedures and conditioning to train it to survive in such environments. To ensure they are successfully re-wilded, the birds have been placed in a well-designed area where they will be trained to acquire the vital skills for their survival. Afterwards, the flock will be released into the Arabian Wildlife Park to establish their own breeding sites. Currently, the birds are being vigilantly monitored by wildlife biologists and veterinarians from the Barari Conservation Team to assess their adaptation to the Island’s climate.”

An 87sq km island located off the coast of Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas was developed into a wildlife reserve by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Today, as a result of dedicated environmental and conservation efforts, it is home to over 13,000 animals and birds. The free-roaming wildlife, which includes oryx, gazelles, deer, ostriches, giraffes and cheetahs, can be found in the 4,100 hectare Arabian Wildlife Park - a popular attraction on the Island.

Guests interested in visiting or staying on Sir Bani Yas can enjoy short direct flights from Abu Dhabi and Dubai with Rotana Jet or take a boat from Jebel Dhanna in the Western Region. Visitors can stay at one of the three five-star hotels on the island including Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara, Anantara Sir Bani Yas Al Yamma Villa Resort and Anantara Sir Bani Yas Al Sahel Villa Resort and enjoy a wide range activities including land-sailing, horse-riding, kayaking, diving, archery and hiking.


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