Release Programme


IFHC follows a rigorous scientific strategy for releasing birds.  Captive-bred Houbara for release are monitored in their release cages and assessed for when they are ready to be released into the wild.  Following strict protocols (and meeting all necessary regulatory requirements, such as CITES – as an endangered species permission is needed to export the birds) the birds are transferred to specially selected release sites in countries across the species’ range. 

Surveys of potential release sites are undertaken to ensure the correct environmental conditions are in place to maximise the survival of the released Houbara. Release areas are studied through wide vegetation cover surveys, vertebrate and invertebrate enumeration and the mapping of natural habitats, as well as climate research through meteorological stations distributed in different regions. In addition, the effects of agricultural methods, particularly grazing, are evaluated and their impact on plant regeneration is assessed in the target area.

The data and information gathered by the fund biologists are of great importance to programmes executed by other organisations to conserve bio diversity and ecosystems in various range areas.

Once an area has been identified as suitable for release, the Houbara will be transported to the sites and released following well-defined protocols. After release the birds will be observed and monitored in their natural habitats. Survival rates are recorded as a basis for measuring success programmes.


Satellite Monitoring

Today’s advanced tracking devices provide very accurate information, including; the birds’ temperature, speed and height from ground. IFHC’s tracking programme began with a single transmitter fitted to one bird. This has grown to a point where today over 2,600 satellite tracking devices are used to constantly monitor Houbara bustard movements across the globe. Since 2003, when transmitters were first deployed to Asian Houbara, almost 1,700 birds have been tracked. Originally only birds released in the UAE had transmitters, but by 2017 this had risen to birds released in 10 countries in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Study of the data gathered has revealed new discoveries about the birds’ migration routes from the UAE to different Asian countries and from the main breeding grounds in Kazakhstan, as well the migration of the Northern Africa species. Evidence from tracking proves that Asian Houbara travel an average of 6,000 km during the 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.



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