Alarming houbara bustard population trends in Asia

Oct 24, 2020

Relative abundance and density estimates of Asian houbara were assessed during the breeding season in two breeding grounds of migrant populations (China and south Kazakhstan) and in one breeding ground of a resident population (Oman), between 1998 and 2002. For the study period, the relative abundance was from 0.004 to 0.06 individual per km driven and density estimates varied from 0.01 to 0.2 houbara per km2. Relative abundance and density of houbara declined by 63% and 69%, respectively in China, by 60% and 49%, respectively in Kazakhstan and by 50% and 75%, respectively in Oman. Overall, an average of 27–30% annual decline in both relative abundance and density was observed for the three regions. Despite being legally a strictly protected species in China, Kazakhstan and Oman, houbara are heavily hunted and poached on all their migration routes and wintering grounds. The current levels of hunting and poaching are not sustainable and without the immediate agreement and implementation of international conservation measures, the Asian houbara may face extinction in the wild in the foreseeable future.

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