Captive Breeding

The Breeding Programme

Scientific study is the foundation of a captive breeding programme which is now was founded and developed. Only by studying the birds’ physiological and behavioural characteristics, both in the wild and in captivity, can the suitable artificial conditions to breed the bird in large numbers be recreated.

From the outset, securing the genetic purity of the Houbara was a major objective. Maintaining genetic purity provides the best chance of survival as captive-bred birds retain the genes of wild Houbara. Breeding the Houbara in captivity and ensuring that each bird contains the right genetic code is an extremely complex process. Abu Dhabi has invested immense economic, as well as intellectual, capital in ensuring the genetic line of the Houbara is secure in the captive breeding flock.

It begins with taking samples of the birds at our specialised breeding and research centres. The healthiest males, genetically and physically, are selected to ensure the maintenance of the genes, following which the samples are used to artificially inseminate the female birds. Once the eggs are laid, they are collected and moved to incubators for three weeks.

We have developed separate protocols depending on whether the birds will be released into the wild or be retained to reinforce the breeding stock.

For those birds that will be released into the wild, human contact after hatching is severely limited so that they do not become tame – in the wild the birds are shy and stay away from humans. Therefore, after hatching the young birds are fed by specialists in the centres for another three weeks before they are moved to release cages where they gradually learn to acquire the strength and skill to adapt to the harsh environments they will encounter in the wild. This greatly increases their chance of survival once they are released into their natural environment. Over the past 40 years, we have developed advanced breeding techniques and is now the reference point for the methodology for the captive breeding of Houbara.

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