The International Fund for Houbara Conservation, IFHC, today in Abu Dhabi hosted an international summit dedicated to the conservation of the Houbara bustard, a bird synonymous with Arabic culture.
The summit, ‘Conservation Through Government Action’, was officially opened by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.
In his opening address, Dr. Al-Zeyoudi said, "UAE’s commitment to preserving the environment and its precious resources stems from the values instilled in our people by the UAE's Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Among the most prominent examples of Sheikh Zayed’s environmental leadership are his pioneering efforts in greening the desert, combating desertification, and conserving wildlife."
"In line with the directives of our visionary leadership – President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai; His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to conserve the environment, the UAE has been making efforts to achieve a balance between economic and social development, and the preservation of cultural, social and environmental heritage," he added.
Over 70 delegates representing 17 range countries attended the summit, which took place at Jumeirah Etihad Towers.
At the summit, speakers from the Fund set out Abu Dhabi’s record on conserving the Houbara and highlighted the challenges, which remain to achieve a sustainable future for the species in the wild.
The Director of the Smithsonian Zoo and Biology Conservation Institute, Steven Monfort, delivered the keynote speech, in which he addressed the importance of monitoring wild populations to design proper conservation programmes targeting the sustainable use of a species. In addition to the summit, delegates will visit the Fund’s two state-of-the-art breeding and research centres in Sweihan and Saih Al Salam, Abu Dhabi.
Addressing the Summit, Majid Al Mansouri, IFHC Managing Director, said, "Today marks an historic step forward in the efforts to conserve the Houbara bustard. This is the first ever gathering of senior officials from across the range of the Houbara; a bird that we in the Gulf hold very dear to our hearts. The challenges we face are ones shared across the species’ range, and only through collective international efforts can we reach our ultimate objective to provide a sustainable future for the Houbara in the wild."
Abu Dhabi’s efforts to restore and preserve the Houbara were initiated in the 1970s by the late Sheikh Zayed and is now established as the world’s leading authority on the species. Many achievements were made over the past forty years but, following a strategic review in 2017, it was decided to place greater emphasis on international aspects.
This summit is part of a series of international events designed to enhance further the prospects of the species in the wild. It follows a major meeting of global conservationist hosted by the Fund in April this year.