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Houbara bustard
This article is about the North African species. For the Asian houbara that was considered a subspecies, see MacQueen's bustard.
The houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata), also known as African houbara, is a large bustard native to North Africa and southwestern Asia, where it lives in arid habitats. The global population is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2014.[1] The European population is restricted to the Canary Islands and has been assessed as Near Threatened in 2015.[2]
Houbara bustard
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Otidiformes
Family:Otididae
Genus:Chlamydotis
Species:C. undulata
Binomial name
Chlamydotis undulata
(Jacquin, 1784)
Range of Ch. undulata
  Resident
It is dull brown with black markings on the wings, a greyish neck and a black ruff along the side of the neck. Males are larger and heavier than females.
The houbara bustard formerly included MacQueen's bustard, which is native to Asia.
Description
The houbara bustard is a small to mid-sized bustard. It measures 55–65 cm (22–26 in) in length and spans 135–170 cm (53–67 in) across the wings. It is brown above and white below, with a black stripe down the sides of its neck. In flight, the long wings show large areas of black and brown on the flight feathers. It is slightly smaller and darker than MacQueen's bustard. The sexes are similar, but the female, at 66 cm (26 in) tall, is rather smaller and greyer above than the male, at 73 cm (29 in) tall.[3][clarification needed] The body mass is 1.15–2.4 kg (2.5–5.3 lb) in males and 1–1.7 kg (2.2–3.7 lb) in females.[4][clarification needed]
Taxonomy
Psophia undulata was the scientific name proposed by Joseph Franz von Jacquin in 1784 who described a houbara brought from Tripoli to Vienna's Tiergarten Schönbrunn.[5]Otis macqueenii was proposed by John Edward Gray in 1832 for a bustard from India drawn by Thomas Hardwicke.[6] The African houbara was subordinated to the genus Chlamydotis by René Lesson in 1839.[7]Houbara fuertaventurae was proposed by Walter Rothschild and Ernst Hartert in 1894 for a houbara from Fuerteventura island.[8]
MacQueen's bustard was long regarded a subspecies of the African houbara.[9] It was proposed as a distinct species in 2003 because of differences in plumage, vocalizations and courtship behaviour.[10] The British Ornithologists' Union's Taxonomic Records Committee's decision to accept this split has been questioned on the grounds that the differences in the male courtship displays may be functionally trivial, and would not prevent interbreeding, whereas a difference in a pre-copulation display would indicate that the two are separate species.[11] The committee responded to this scepticism, by explaining that there are differences in both courtship and pre-copulation displays.[12]
Phylogeny
Canarian houbara in Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Results of analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences of 73 Chlamydotis samples indicates that the houbara bustard and MacQueen's bustard genetically diverged around 430,000 years ago from a common ancestor. The divergence between the African and Canarian houbara was estimated at around 20,000 to 25,000 years ago.[13]
Distribution and habitat
The houbara bustard is found in North Africa west of the Nile, mainly in the western part of the Sahara desert region in Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Some old records exist from Sudan as well. A small population is found in the Canary Islands. The Asian houbara or MacQueen's bustard which was earlier included in this species occurs east of the Sinai Peninsula. The North African species is sedentary unlike the migratory northern populations of MacQueen's bustards.
The subspecies fuertaventurae of the Canary Islands is highly restricted and endangered. A 1997 survey found a total population of about 500 birds.[14]
Behaviour and ecology
Breeding
Houbara bustard egg in the collection of the Museum Wiesbaden
Like other bustards, this species has a flamboyant display raising the white feathers of the head and neck and withdrawing the head. Two to four eggs are laid on the ground. It hardly ever uses its voice.[citation needed]
Feeding
This species is omnivorous, taking seeds, insects and other small creatures.[citation needed]
Threats
In North Africa, the houbara bustard is hunted by falconers and by hunters with guns. The populations declined in the two decades before 2004, but have been increasing since.[1]
Conservation
The International Fund for Houbara Conservation [15] is the global leader in Houbara bustard conservation. A global conservation strategy was developed and implemented over the past forty years with the objective of ensuring the species has a sustainable future in the wild through effective and appropriate conservation programmes and management plans.[15]
Since 1995, the conservation strategy adopted consists of an integrated approach combining sound ecology, protection measures in the wild, conservation breeding, and effective reinforcement programmes.[15]
The IHFC was created in 2006 to further the original programme by managing international assets and securing partnerships across the range of the houbara, which encourage sustainable practices to ensure the species’ conservation.[15]
The Houbara conservation programme is supported by the government of Abu Dhabi. A multi-faceted Houbara conservation strategy has established breeding centers in the UAE (The National Avian Research Center and The Sheik Khalifa Houbara Breeding Center), Morocco (Emirates Center for Wildlife Propagation) and Kazakhstan (The Sheik Khalifa Houbara Breeding Center) to captive-breed Houbara and increase wild populations of the bird in its natural habitat across entire species range. In 2019, the International Fund for Houbara Conservation bred 484,351 Houbara and released more than 343,428 Houbara into the wild.[15]
The International Foundation for Conservation and Development of Wildlife (IFCDW) is a major conservation and breeding project established with funds from Prince Sultan Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and based near Agadir, Morocco. The centre releases captive bred populations to boost wild populations.[15]
References
  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2016). "Chlamydotis undulata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22728245A90341807.
  2. ^ BirdLife International (2015). "Chlamydotis undulata Europe". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2015: e.T22728245A90341807.
  3. ^ Ali, S. (1993). The Book of Indian Birds. Bombay: Bombay Natural History Society. ISBN 978-0-19-563731-1.
  4. ^ CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
  5. ^ Jacquin, J. F. (1784). "Psophia undulata". Beyträge zur Geschichte der Vögel. Wien: C. F. Wappler. p. 24.
  6. ^ Gray, J. E. (1830–1832). "MacQueen's bustard Otis macqueenii. Gray". Illustrations of Indian Zoology; Chiefly Selected from the Collection of Major-General Hardwicke, F.R.S. Volume 2. London: Treuttel, Würtz, Treuttel, Jun. and Richter. p. Plate 47.
  7. ^ Lesson, R. (1839). "Oisseaux inédits". Revue Zoologique par la Société Cuvierienne. II (2): 43−47.
  8. ^ Rothschild, W. & Hartert, E. (1894). "On a new Bustard from the Palearctic Region". Novitates Zoologicae. 1 (5): 689.
  9. ^ Ali, S. & Ripley, S. D. (1983). "Chlamydotis undulata". A Pictorial Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Bombay: Bombay Natural History Society. p. 106, Plate 37.
  10. ^ Knox, A. G.; Collinson, M.; Helbig, A. J.; Parkin, D. T. & Sangster, G. (2002). "Taxonomic recommendations for British birds". Ibis. 144 (4): 707–710. doi​:​10.1046/j.1474-919X.2002.00110.x​.
  11. ^ Cowan, P. J. (2004). "Are there really two species of houbara?". British Birds. 97 (7): 346–347.
  12. ^ Collinson, M. (2004). "Are there really two species of houbara? A response from the TSC". British Birds. 97 (7): 348.
  13. ^ Idaghdour, Y.; Broderick, D.; Korrida, A.; Chbel, F. (2004). "Mitochondrial control region diversity of the houbara bustard Chlamydotis undulata complex and genetic structure along the Atlantic seaboard of North Africa". Molecular Ecology. 13 (1): 43–54. doi​:​10.1046/j.1365-294X.2003.02039.x​. PMID 14653787. S2CID 25591653.
  14. ^ Aurelio Martin; Juan Antonio Lorenzo; Miguel Angel Hernandez; Manuel Nogales; Félix Manuel Medina; Juan Domingo Delgado; José Julián Naranjo; Vicente Quilis; Guillermo Delgado (1997). "Distribution, status and conservation of the houbara bustard Chlamydotis undulata fuertaventurae Rothschild & Hartert, 1894, in the Canary Islands, November–December 1994"(PDF). Ardeola. 44 (1): 61–69.
  15. ^ a b c d e f "Fifty Houbara birds released into the UAE desert - in pictures". The National. 2019-02-23. Retrieved 2019-02-28.
Further reading
External links
Wikispecies has information related to Chlamydotis undulata.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chlamydotis undulata.
Last edited on 2 April 2021, at 15:33
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