(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Three weeks after the release, all the 11 Asian houbaras are alive and well after rejoining the species' annual migratory route north, said Majid Ali Al Mansouri, managing director of International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC). The 11 Asian houbaras rescued in January after a failed smuggling attempt on the UAE's border with Oman was released by the IFHC on March 22.
Following medical examinations to assess potential contagious diseases and eight weeks of rehabilitation at the IFHC quarantine in Abu Dhabi, the houbaras were released in two groups in the Cholistan Desert in Pakistan. All 11 birds have been fitted with GPS trackers to monitor their movement.
The first group of five female Asian Houbara were released in Rahimyar approximately 120 kilometres from the country's eastern border with India, while a second group comprising five females and a single male were released approximately 40 kilometres south of the city of Khanpur. Three weeks since their release, their GPS trackers indicate all 11 houbara have rejoined the species' annual migratory route north.
"Thanks to the swift action of the UAE Customs and the expert rehabilitation work of our scientific team, the 11 Asian Houbara have been saved and released with no impact on the UAE's delicate ecosystem," said Al Mansouri.
"The release location in Pakistan was handpicked to give the bustards the best chance of rejoining their migratory route and we thank our conservation partners in Pakistan for their fast response and professionalism in helping release the rescued bustards."
With smuggled houbara typically suffering tremendous stress from capture and illicit transportation, the IFHC data show that only one in 10 wild houbara survives being smuggled across the UAE border. It is also common for smuggled bustards to carry diseases which can have serious sanitary and health implications to falcons that hunt them and fauna in the wider eco-system.
As part of the IFHC's ongoing education efforts with the UAE and wider GCC falconry community, the fund is engaging falconers to highlight the illegal trade's role in the historic decline of houbara populations.
Al Mansouri revealed the IFHC will use the rescued 11 Asian Houbara as a case study to educate falconers on the dangers that illegally sourced houbara pose to traditional Arabian falconry. "Smuggled houbara pose a great danger to the falconry community. Had these birds been sick and carried diseases into the eco-system, there would have been a significant risk to prized falcons who can contract fatal infections hunting sick houbara."