BAHAWALPUR -  The International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) and the Houbara Foundation International Pakistan jointly released 150 Houbara bustards in Cholistan Desert.

In the past several years too, hundreds of birds had been released - the largest number of 600 Houbara bustards were released in March 2015, 200 in February 2016 and 500 in March 2017.

These birds are from the blood-line of Pakistan’s resident species and were released to reinforce Pakistan’s current population of the species in the wild.

A recent report published by IFHC revealed a revolutionary success in their breeding programme by producing over 59,000 Houbara bustards across their breeding centres releasing thousands of birds to help sustain the existing wild population.

The breeding programme began over 206,000 Houbara. Of these, around 137,831 birds have been released into the wild. IFHC is now producing over 59,000 birds every year.

Having been under highly specialized care, the birds being brought to Pakistan have been well-prepared to manage themselves in the wild. All the birds are individually tagged with identification rings, while selected birds are also tagged with satellite transmitters, for scientists to carry out monitoring of the birds after release and record their movements, habitat preferences and ability to breed.

The effort will continue in the future too. After the release, data will be generated bi-weekly. Their movement patterns and changing locations of the birds will be communicated to Houbara Foundation International Pakistan for field validation and further investigations.

Before being moved from Abu Dhabi to Pakistan by air, the birds were closely examined and certified fit.

The cooperation was provided by Houbara Foundation and the Punjab Wildlife Department for receiving the birds and their scientific release under CITES Export and Import Permits along with necessary NOC which had already been exchanged between the two establishments in Abu Dhabi and Pakistan.

Since the birds are of the blood-line of Pakistan’s resident Houbara population, it is hoped that most of the birds will settle for breeding, to repopulate the Pakistani Houbara bustard.