x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Geneticists to reveal bird conservation progress

Details to be unveiled on efforts to protect the traditional quarry of Arab falconers, the endangered houbara bustard.

The future of the endangered houbara bustard - the traditional quarry of Arab falconers - could become a little clearer tomorrow, when the nation's top scientists gather to discuss efforts to breed the bird using the latest genetic techniques.

Experts from the Natural Reserves Management at the President's Private Department will present the findings of a two-year project to an international symposium held in Abu Dhabi, the official news agency WAM reported.

Efforts to bring the bird back from the brink of extinction have centred on techniques to produce houbara chicks from chimeric birds. A chimeric bird is one into which cells from another bird have been injected.

Researchers from the department and Dubai's Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL) have also been working separately to produce chimeric chickens - birds that outwardly resemble a chicken but which produce the same semen and eggs as a houbara bustard.

In April the Abu Dhabi research centre said that it had hatched houbara birds from chicken eggs. CVRL also said it had hatched a male chick. Its father was a chimera between a houbara and a chicken with the appearance of a White Leghorn rooster. It started life as a normal chicken, but was then injected with germ cells, obtained from a houbara bustard. After it matured, it was used to artificially inseminate a female houbara.