IFHC also presented the findings of a survey into the knowledge and understanding of falconers in the Middle East about the Houbara.
Mohammed Saleh Al Baidani, Director General IFHC, said: “It is important that the Houbara has a voice at conferences such as this. A secure future for falconry is dependent on a sustainable, long-term future for the Houbara. The fate of both is in our own hands. What we have presented to the conference today is a history of the work of IFHC which is providing a living legacy of the Late Sheikh Zayed’s vision and a look at what more we need to do to ensure that legacy is fulfilled. Our survey of falconers is an important step for us to move forward together.”
Mohammed Saleh presented IFHC’s global framework for conservation of the Houbara bustard which was begun by Sheikh Zayed and is being continued by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The framework is based on three pillars: conservation of the Houbara; contribution of scientific research; and the contribution to human development through socio-economic projects. He outlined the success of the programme and was joined by colleagues who provided detailed information from the global centres managed by IFHC.
IFHC’s survey of falconers in the Middle East found a high recognition of ‘sustainable hunting’ (where numbers in the wild remain higher than those hunted). 65 per cent of those surveyed understood the importance of sustainable hunting and an overwhelming majority (66 per cent) believed that the number of Asian Houbara in the wild was declining. Only 21 per cent thought that Asian Houbara numbers were increasing in the wild. More than half those interviewed said unregulated hunting is the most important factor in the decline of the Asian Houbara in the wild.
As a result of the survey, IFHC is recommending that: IFHC develops its conservation education programme with particular focus on increased communication with falconers.
The survey was carried out to see if falconers’ knowledge matched the scientific findings gathered through IFHC field studies. Mohammed Saleh added: “Falconers are an important source of information and it is essential that we continue the conservation between falconers and conservationists.”
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