After a major breakthrough reproducing houbara bustard chicks, scientists in the UAE are perfecting and expanding on their methods in hopes that one day soon they can repopulate the region with the endangered wild bird.
Teams working on two separate research projects in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, presented their findings yesterday to an audience of experts at the First International Symposium on Conservation and Propagation of Endangered Species of Birds, at Emirates Palace hotel.
Scientists are working to isolate certain male and female reproductive cells from a single houbara embryo so they can create what is known as an immortal cell line, one that can be frozen and used to produce chimeric birds, and ultimately houbara bustards, as needed.
The conference is organised by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and has attracted leading scientists from as far afield as Britain, Japan, Korea, the US, China, France and Australia.
The houbara bustard, one of the main birds hunted in the sport of falconry, has suffered large declines in numbers in the past two decades, with experts estimating that in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa populations are down by a quarter, while in Central Asia the decline may be as much as 40 per cent.
Traditional breeding methods have relied on artificial insemination, with sperm from males injected into eggs produced by females.
However, last spring the two teams managed to produce houbara chicks using chimeric birds, that is chickens injected with houbara bustard sex cells before they hatched. The resulting......
Read Full Article Race is on to repopulate species of bustards - The National
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Point of interest: I was reliably informed that the 1982 "first hatching" of a Houbara bustard was a sham. A fertile egg, collected in the wild was flown in and hatched. A case of one upmanship by competing breeders. Whoever bred the second chick is the true first. But of course it will all be denied and what does it matter, they are breeding them like chickens now in chimeric eggs. Undeniably clever and another tool for conservation.