IFHC’s survey: Three out of Four Hunters Say Sustainable Hunting is Key for Houbara Survival

Abu Dhabi, 5th February 2014 (WAM): Attendees to the Third International Falconry Festival (IFF) overwhelmingly agreed that falconers are ultimately responsible for conserving the Houbara bustard, the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) reports. In a survey conducted by the Fund during the event, a definitive 74 per cent of participants agreed that falconers should practice sustainable hunting to ensure wild Houbara thrive for generations to come.

The IFHC, which is dedicated to the conservation of the Houbara Bustard, collected responses from just under 350 falconers consisting of 60 respondents from the Gulf region, 109 from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, and 178 from Europe, North America and Oceania, all of whom were in attendance at the IFF, the largest gathering of falconers from across the world.

Despite a strong belief in sustainable hunting, those falconers surveyed felt that hunting regulations are neither properly implemented by governments nor adhered to by hunters at-large. Of the 80 per cent of falconers aware of restrictions on hunting Houbara in their countries of residence, merely 57 per cent felt that those regulations were adequately implemented and enforced. Of those who stood by the importance of regulations, 79 per cent felt that tougher rules should be in place to protect the Houbara. This compares to 94 per cent of Emirati falconers who reported awareness of hunting regulations in the United Arab Emirates and 76 per cent of whom felt that they were properly enforced.

Remarking on the survey results, Mohammed Saleh Al Baidani, Director General at the International Fund for Houbara Conservation, said, “Poaching and the black market trade continue to significantly affect many vulnerable and endangered species across the globe. At the IFHC, we are constantly working to reign in their harmful effects on the Houbara through our captive breeding and release program, supported by ecological studies and partnerships with both falconers and governments to ensure the success of the program.” Al Baidani went on to add, “The results of this survey are significant as they reflect the high level of awareness among the international falconry community of the threat the Houbara face, and specifically among the Emirati community – a testament to the awareness raising activities conducted by the IFHC and its partners. Furthermore, the survey will also help us to highlight those areas where more work is to be done to help further the plight of this vulnerable species.”