Bird Conservation International

Research Article

The world status of the Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata

Paul D. Goriupa1

a1 The Nature Conservation Bureau Ltd 36 Kingfisher Court Hambridge Road Newbury RG14 5SJ U.K.

Summary

The Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata is prominent in avian conservation because of its high value as the traditional quarry of falconers in Arabia and western Asia; such hunting has often been blamed for severely reducing population levels especially in Arabia, Pakistan and Morocco. This paper reviews current knowledge of the world status of the Houbara Bustard in each of the 31 range states where it has occurred within the last 10 years. On the basis of the evidence available, the overall population is estimated to be between 49,000 and 62,000 birds, made up of 700–750 birds in the Canary Islands, around 10,000 in Africa, and the remainder in the Middle East and Asia (especially Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan). Numbers have apparently declined greatly during this century because of agricultural intensification and other land use changes, often exacerbated by hunting and trapping. Evaluation of the population status and trends against the current Red List criteria of IUCN indicate that the Canary Islands subspecies C. u. fuertaventurae is Vulnerable, while the subspecies C. u. undulata and C. u. macqueenii (as well as the whole species population) could probably also qualify for listing as Vulnerable but it is more appropriate to consider them “Near threatened” for the time being.