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International Fund for Houbara Conservation signs MoU with Khalifa University at ADIHEX


The International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Khalifa University of Science and Technology at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (ADIHEX).

The MoU will focus on scientific research and training, including robotics, intelligent systems, genetics, and genomics in breeding projects. It will also provide students with training opportunities and drive employment for qualified national talent in technical and scientific roles at the Fund.

As part of the MoU, two research agreements will be initiated to further the understanding of the houbara species. The first agreement will underline the use of intelligent systems by developing computational models to analyse data related to bird positioning, vegetation categorisation, individual bird detection, distance tracking, camera trap footage analysis, and analysis of images of captive-bred birds.

The second agreement will focus on robotics through the development of a houbara robot, which will help in ecological study on-site and will assist in gathering information on wild houbara species in their natural environment. Additionally, the houbara robot will also be used to study behaviours such as mating to collect semen from wild male houbara to enhance the genetic diversity in the captive breeding programme.

In line with the directives of the IFHC’s Board of Directors, the collaboration with Khalifa University addresses the need to leverage cutting-edge research and technology to enhance the Fund's leadership and support its advanced programmes in preserving vulnerable species. Additionally, it aims to strengthen partnerships with distinguished national universities and institutions in development and scientific research.

The signing ceremony took place at the IFHC pavilion and was attended by Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development, Abdullah Ahmed Khalaf Al Qubaisi, Managing Director of the IFHC, Abdulla Ghurair Al Qubaisi, Director-General of the IFHC, and Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice President of the Khalifa university.

Al Qubaisi said, “This collaboration will accelerate the research objectives of the Fund and provide valuable insights into various aspects of the lives of houbara bustards and their natural habitat.

“The research agreement with the university will see robotics being utilised to help conduct behavioural studies of the houbara birds.”

Dr. Al Hammadi said, “The Khalifa University is pleased to collaborate with the IFHC to enhance research for wildlife protection.

“This partnership will allow the Fund to leverage the research expertise and capabilities of the university, enhancing the role of universities as prominent national research institutions in advancing the objectives of this distinctive global model for conserving endangered species.”

Dr. Al Hammadi added that this MoU creates opportunities for professors and students to engage in essential research and studies to fulfil the Fund's objectives. Additionally, it opens doors for some exceptional graduates to pursue research, studies, and specialised roles within the IFHC, including its various centres and domestic and international projects.