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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wildlife Series Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis Undulata) November 4, 1991

Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) is listed as endangered\' in the Report of Pakistan Enquiry Committee 1971, and is included in IUCN Red Data Book, 1978. The Houbara which breeds in the Russian cold desert and steppes as well as Basinah in Kharan District of Baluchistan-Pakistan, migrate largely into the hot deserts and plains of Pakistan along 2 main routes:
1. Down the Khurram Valley (Khyber Pass) following the Kabul River and thence into the Thai & Cholistan tracts (Punjab).
2. Via Quetta (Baluchistan) splitting up along the Indus River to Pass into the Khirthar and Jhimpir Region in the West and Tharparkar tract (Sindh) in the East.
Houbara is a very shy bird and avoids human interference. It is solitary in nature and course in dispersed population according to the availability of protection of food except at the time of migration. It does not exhibit territorial behaviour and sometimes 4 or 5 birds can be seen together under good conditions of food and shelter. The bird prefers moonlit night and dusk dawn periods during dark nights for its activities including migration and feeding, whereas, the dark nights and major part of the day is spent in hideouts present in the area, in the form of dried water courses and shallow edges. The bird has very keen and large eyes and is ever vigilant to the approaching predator and hence it is hard to be taken by surprise. The body coloration and contours match so perfectly with the background that it is difficult to spot the bird even from a close-in position.
Houbara is omnivorous and nocturnal in habit and said to consume whatever is available. The food varies with the type of vegetation in the area and the season. It is mainly herbivorous, mostly depending upon parts of the plants including young leaves, shoots, dried seeds and even roots. However, some beetles, small lizards, snakes have also been repeatedly recovered from the stomach of the hunted Houbara.
Due to persecution of the bird, the density of the birds now visiting Pakistan show remarkable decline from year and now drastic measures have to be adopted to save the Houbara Bustard which has almost reached its status being endangered species.
To focus world attention on the need to protect and preserve this vulnerable wildlife species Pakistan Post Office is issuing a special postage stamp of Rs.7/- value depicting \"Houbara Bustard\" (Chlamydotis undulata) on November 4, 1991. It is a part of the series on wildlife stamps being issued by Pakistan Post Office since 1975.
(Contributed by Sindh Wildlife Management Board).