Sustainable hunting and the conservation of the threatened houbara bustards

Paul M. Dolman, Keith M. Scotland, Robert J. Burnside, Nigel J. Collar

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African houbara (Chlamydotis undulata) and Asian houbara (C. macqueenii), classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, have been over-exploited across their global ranges. The highest-profile conservation response has been large-scale releases of captive-bred birds, potentially threatening wild populations through introgression. Options for increasing numbers of the species are habitat management to counter overgrazing (in North Africa and the Middle East), mitigation of powerline collisions, predator control (ethically questionable and impractical), reduction of poaching and trapping, limited captive breeding, and hunting controls. Assuming hunting continues, the best model for conserving both species is a system of sustainable hunting that incorporates stakeholder observance, involvement of stakeholders and local communities in decisions and monitoring, protection of no-hunting areas, scientifically-determined quotas, small-scale use of captive-bred birds, and—if numbers still fail to respond, as a last resort—moratoria. These measures provide the only realistic guarantee for the long-term survival of Arab falconry, a part of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Article number126000
JournalJournal for Nature Conservation
Early online date14 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • captive-breeding
  • translocation
  • population reinforcement
  • supplementation
  • game management
  • sustainable hunting

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