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The Houbara Bustard

News: Eleven members of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) royal family arrived in Pakistan to hunt the Houbara Bustard under a license issued by Pakistan’s foreign ministry. 

About Houbara Bustard: It is a large terrestrial bird found in parts of Asia, the Middle East and Africa. 

Different Types: Houbara Bustard comes in two distinct types as recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, one residing in North Africa (Chlamydotis undulata) and the other in Asia (Chlamydotis macqueenii). 

Conservation Status:  

  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable  
  • CITES: Appendix I 

Distribution: The population of the Asian houbara bustards extends from northeast Asia, across central Asia, the Middle East, and the Arabian Peninsula to reach the Sinai desert. 

Characteristics: 

  • Features: The species lives in Arid Climate. Asian Houbara bustards are known to migrate in thousands to the Indian subcontinent every winter. In fact, it is similar to the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard which is native to India. 
  • Breeding: After breeding during the spring season, the Asian Houbara bustards migrate south to spend the winter in Pakistan, the Arabian Peninsula and nearby Southwest Asia. 
  • Food Habits: It is omnivorous taking seeds, insects and other small creatures. 

Threats:  

  • Decline in population: Poaching, unregulated hunting and the degradation of its natural habitat. 
  • Hunting in Pakistan: While Pakistanis are not allowed to hunt the bird, the government invites Arab royals to hunt it every year. 
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