As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday 25 November 2018

Captive-breeding will not save wild Asian Houbara without regulation of hunting

Date:  November 13, 2018
Source:  University of East Anglia
The survival of the heavily exploited Asian Houbara depends on the regulation of trapping and hunting, according to research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA).
New findings published today reveal that trying to stabilise populations solely through captive breeding will require the release of such large numbers it will inevitably compromise wild populations.
The Asian Houbara, a large, spectacular bird that breeds from the Middle East through Asia, is of major cultural and political significance because of Arab falconry, with hunting influencing international diplomacy. The species is threatened by uncontrolled hunting and poaching, which has caused its decline in the Middle East and Central Asia since the 1960s.
Attempts to conserve the species while also supporting the ancient tradition of Arabian falconry have focused on releasing captive-bred birds in increasing numbers. But research published today in the journal Biological Conservation shows that the species in Uzbekistan is declining by more than 9 per cent each year, and that the number of captive-bred birds needed to be released annually just to stabilise this population would be 1.5 times larger than the wild population itself.
Although captive-breeding can help rescue species from extinction, it bears many risks [see Notes to editors], and such mass-scale releases may compromise the fitness of wild populations. Sustainable hunting and conservation instead needs an integrated approach that also includes controls on hunting, according to Prof Paul Dolman, professor of conservation ecology in UEA's School of Environmental Sciences.

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