LAHORE - International Fund for Houbara Conservation based in Abu Dhabi, UAE will release 220 Houbara bustards in Punjab.

These birds are from the blood-line of Pakistan’s resident species and are being donated to augment country’s current population in the wild.

The initiative will add to several releases of Houbara donated by the International Fund in previous years. The last such release of 600 birds took place in March 2015.

Birds have been examined and certified fit for travel by air.

At a meeting with President Houbara Foundation Brig (r) Mukhtar Ahmed yesterday, Director General Wildlife and Parks Khalid Ayaz Khan said that the birds would be closely examined again before release in the wild.

The DG Wildlife and the president Houbara Foundation exchanged export and import permits along with NOC and hoped that the birds would settle for breeding to repopulate the resident Houbara bustard.

Success has been achieved in breeding program, said Brig (r) Mukhtar, adding that a record number of Houbara have been produced at state-of-the-art breeding centres.

He further said the release of captive-bred birds will help sustain existing wild population.

Ever since the breeding program began, more than 200,000 Houbara have been bred. Of these, around 137,000 birds have been released into the wild, the Houbara Foundation president said.

International Fund is now close to achieving target of producing 50,000 Houbara every year, Brig (r) Mukhtar said, adding that all the birds released in the province have been individually tagged with identification rings, while selected birds are also tagged with satellite transmitters for monitoring.