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Over 2600 satellite tracking systems used by the UAE to monitor Houbara bustard movements across the globe

Date : 13/11/2016

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Over 2600 satellite tracking systems used by the UAE to monitor Houbara bustard movements across the globe

 

The International Fund for Houbara Conservation that is based in the Capital, Abu Dhabi, has revealed new discoveries using their satellite tracking program which monitors Houbara bustards and their migration routes from the UAE to different Asian countries and across Northern Africa. The tracking initiative, which started in the mid 1990s, has succeeded in the discovery of many scientific facts about these birds, which improved the success rates of the breeding program by monitoring the birds after their release into to the wild. The tracking program has also greatly aided in documenting and enhancing the Houbara Fund’s cooperation with environmental entities operating throughout the bustard’s migratory route.

The Fund’s Acting Head of Communication and Public Relations, Mr. Ali Mubarak Al Shamsi explained how the Houbara Fund uses the latest international technologies to track the birds, “the Houbara bustards are fitted with 45-gram devices that send signals to satellites every four hours. The devices help researchers across our scientific institutes to learn about the bird’s exact location anywhere in the world. It also allows us to collect information on the bird’s behavior in the wild and it’s nesting cycle. When a female Houbara is seen to be still for over eight hours, it can be assumed that she is laying her eggs.” Al Shamsi explained.

The tracking devices that are fitted on the Houbara bustards’ backs provide very accurate information including the birds’ temperature, their speed and height from ground.

Over 2,600 devices are installed and constantly monitored, mostly for Asian Houbara who migrate between the UAE and across Asia. Al Shamsi pointed out that the tracking project was initiated in 1994 on a single male Houbara bustard, who had migrated to the Abu Dhabi western region during the winter months and then returned once again to Turkmenistan.

The satellite tracking studies revealed that the Houbara bustard travels an average of 6,000 km during its migration season and has three different migration paths. The birds moving from west Kazakhstan to spend the winter in the Gulf area, pass by western Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, while the Houbara that start their route in East Kazakhstan follow a second migration line which crosses  Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran to reach the UAE in the winter. The third and final path runs from Central Asia across the south and southeast of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Al Shamsi added, “the use of this technology comes as part of Abu Dhabi’s distinctive efforts in protecting Houbara bustards through a highly advanced program which breeds and releases the Houbara bustards into the wild.”

The International Fund for Houbara Conservation announced this month that the total annual breeding exceeded the global target of 50,000 birds and reached 53,743 Houbara chicks in the current year. This takes the total number of Asian and North African Houbara bred from 1996 up to 285,000 birds.

Almost 200,000 were released into the wild since 1998 until today. 

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