Our Neighborhood's Biodiversity Map

* Please click the continent to see the endangered species of our neighborhood.
Middle East
ARKive species - Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) * To See the original image, please click the image
Shared by : Arushi Madan (UAE)
Region : North Africa & Middle East
Status : Vulnerable
Introduction and their role in Ecosystem
Houbara is the national bird of UAE and real pride for the Middle East wildlife. A striking bird resembling a turkey in shape, the houbara bustard is at its most magnificent during the courtship display. It is a slender bird, with a tuft of hairs in the centre of the crown, and long plumes of feathers drooping over the neck, the uppermost feathers being black while the lower ones are white with black tip. The body is pale sandy-buff in color, with darker brown lines and mottling, while the underside is white. Large areas of black and brown occur on the flight feathers and the long, square tail is sandy-chestnut and patterned with four distinct blue-black bars. Male houbara bustards are slightly larger than females. A largely solitary bird, the houbara bustard feeds alone or in small groups on beetles, ants, plants, and even small lizards.

Showing remarkable adaptation to its arid habitat, the houbara bustard does not need to drink, and instead receives all the water it requires from its food. It will walk kilometers while searching for food, but rarely takes to the skies in flight. In the breeding season, males and females meet only to choose a mate and to breed. Courtship takes place between December and March.
History
With its opulent black-and-white cravat and elegant headdress, the Houbara Bustard resembles royalty in the bird world. This is why it is appealing for hunters, who are keen on poaching it. The traditional practice of hunting for houbara bustards by Middle Eastern falconers has reduced populations significantly, mainly on the wintering grounds. This over-hunting has been compounded by habitat loss and degradation. The species has been particularly affected by habitat degradation as a result of tourist activities and associated development, as well as by military exercises, over-grazing, sand-extraction, and road-development. Further threats include collisions with power lines, and nest-predation by introduced mammals.
Efforts
As a result of conservation and specialized breeding programs in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and other nations, the global population has been nurtured back to an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 birds. One of those programs, the International Fund for Houbara Conservation, releases a target number of birds each year to sustain wild stocks for hunters. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature warns that the general population trend is still falling, mainly because of hunting in the bustards’ wintering grounds. The birds are also targeted by trappers in Pakistan and Iran, who illegally ship them to Saudi Arabia, where they’re used to train falcons. Habitat loss across their wintering grounds further compounds the problem. Currently, the IUCN lists the birds as vulnerable, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has placed them on the most sensitive listing, which prohibits any commercial trade of these birds.

Sources :
http://www.alrasub.com/houbara-pride-of-the-uae-middle-east/
http://www.audubon.org/news/why-houbara-bustard-making-headlines
http://www.arkive.org/houbara-bustard/chlamydotis-undulata/

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