Israel and the UAE Join Forces to Save Endangered Birds

December 22, 2020

by: Excerpt from an article by Ilana Curiel, Ynetnews

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With the ink on a normalization agreement barely dry, Israel and the United Arab Emirates [UAE] are already working together to improve life in the region for more than just humans. A UAE conservation fund and Israeli naturalists are cooperating to preserve the houbara, a desert fowl facing the threat of extinction.

The International Fund for Houbara Conservation from Abu Dhabi signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority and the Nature and Heritage Foundation to conduct joint research projects to save the endangered birds.

The center is responsible for breeding approximately 64,000 chicks in the UAE, Morocco and Kazakhstan. Most chicks are set free, and some have made their way through Jordan to Israel and have settled in the Arava Desert after having been extinct in that region. But bird hunting is an age-old tradition in the UAE, and the houbara is a favored trophy for hunters.

The memorandum—signed by the foundation’s representative, Majid Ali al-Mansuri, and Matan Vilnai, president of the Israel Nature and Heritage Foundation—outlines a five-year cooperation plan for the preservation of the houbara and other endangered species.

Ohad Hazofeh, a zoologist with the Nature and Parks Authority, says the population of houbaras found in Israel is small but genetically unique.

Hazofeh says that the UAE foundation requested a number of birds be sent to Dubai for breeding purposes.

There are only 400 birds of this kind found in the south of the country, fighting hunters, traffic and urbanization that reduces their natural habitat.

Al-Mansuri says his foundation is honored to cooperate with Israel and profit from the knowledge accumulated here. “We believe this cooperation will contribute to our conservation efforts and preserve the endangered birds of Israel.”

Photo Credit: Frank Vassen/wikimedia.org

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