- Abu Dhabi partnership sees thousands of Houbara bustards transported in last three years
The venture, which is part of the Sheikh Khalifa Houbara Reintroduction Programme, began in 2014, when the two organisations signed a partnership agreement. In 2017 alone, more than 2,000 birds were transported safely to countries in Asia and North Africa, which have more hospitable environments, thereby increasing the birds’ long-term survival.
The Houbara are bred in centres in Abu Dhabi managed by IFHC and then released into their natural habitat in countries across the world. IFHC has developed protocols based on ground breaking ecology on the breeding and release of the Houbara, and every release site is studied to ensure the birds have the optimal chance of survival.
Justin Carr, Vice President of Etihad Cargo, said, “Our motto is ‘From Abu Dhabi to the world’ and it is literally the case with our partnership with IFHC. It is an honour to be able to safely transport the Houbara to countries where they can thrive, and play a small part in Abu Dhabi’s project of restoring this iconic species in the wild. Etihad Cargo has a strong record of safely transporting animals around the world – be it returning vulnerable or endangered species to their natural habitat or reuniting pets with their families.”
Commenting on the partnership, Mohammed Saleh Al Baidani, Director-General of IFHC, said: “The range of the Houbara stretches from Morocco to Mongolia, so it is critical that we are able to move the birds from Abu Dhabi to countries across the species’ range safely and securely. Etihad Cargo has proved itself in terms of destinations and security, and together we are helping restore the iconic Houbara to countries where it has been in historic decline. It is another example of how Abu Dhabi is leading the way, both in conservation and commerce.”
Abu Dhabi’s Houbara programme was initiated over 40 years ago by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the UAE, to restore sustainable wild populations of the species to the areas of the world where they were under threat of extinction. In that time, it has developed into the world’s leading Houbara conservation programme. Etihad Cargo receives the Houbara at the Live Animals facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport. The climate in the aircraft hold is adjusted to the ideal level to ensure the birds’ comfort during the flight. As is standard when transporting live animals, the Houbara are the last to be loaded onto the aircraft and the first to be offloaded.
In 2016, Etihad Airways signed the Buckingham Palace Declaration, as a demonstration of support for the prevention of trade in illegal wildlife. The UAE is signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the airline provides the necessary support to help ensure that wildlife controlled under CITES is not carried unless the necessary paperwork is in order. While the transport of Houbara is usually prohibited under CITES, permission is granted on this occasion in support of an official conservation programme.
About Etihad Aviation Group
Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, the Etihad Aviation Group is a diversified global aviation and travel group with a business model driven by partnership and an innovative approach to growth. Etihad Aviation Group comprises five business divisions – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates; Etihad Airways Engineering; Etihad Airport
Services; Hala Group and Airline Equity Partners. For more information, please visit: etihad.com.
About Etihad Cargo
Established in 2004, Etihad Cargo offers a full range of specialised products and services covering general and premium freight and valuable cargo across an international route network in Abu Dhabi. Complementing the bellyhold capacity on Etihad Airways’ 110-strong passenger fleet, Etihad Cargo operates five Boeing 777 freighters on both scheduled and charter services. For more information, please visit: etihadcargo.com and follow Etihad Cargo on LinkedIn.
About The International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC)
IFHC was established in 2006 and reorganised by Royal Decree no. 7, 2014 issued by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. The Fund aims to increase wild Houbara populations through its captive breeding and release programme, with on-going monitoring to ensure long-term preservation and genetic variation of the species. IFHC also aims to foster ties with international and regional, governmental and non-governmental bodies to encourage sustainable practices to ensure the conservation of Houbara.
IFHC oversees the management of an international network of specialised Houbara breeding centers aiming to maintain and increase the birds’ numbers in their natural habitats in range areas. These are:
• National Avian Research Centre (NARC) –Abu Dhabi, UAE
• Emirates Centre for Wildlife Propagation (ECWP), Kingdom of Morocco
• Sheikh Khalifa Houbara Breeding Centre (SKHBC-KZ), Republic of Kazakhstan
• Sheikh Khalifa Houbara Breeding Centre (SKHBC-AD), Abu Dhabi, UAE
The website of the International Fund for Houbara Conservation: www.houbarafund.org