Arabian Bustard Monitoring
Arabian bustards equipped with GPS/Satellite transmitters
Sahelo-Saharan bustards are among the most endangered but least studied birds globally. With regular surveys carried out by the Sahara Conservation Fund from 2006 onwards in the Termit & Tin-Toumma National Nature Reserve, many data have been collected on two species of bustard: the Nubian bustard - Neotis nuba and the Arabian bustard - Ardeotis arabs. However, there is still little known about the distribution and seasonal movements of these two species and in particular the Arabian bustard which is highly threatened by poaching. SCF and its partners in collaboration with the management unit of the reserve have collected a lot of information on illegal trade of Arabian bustards in Niger. The rangers have dismantled a network of traffickers and they realized this species is seriously impacted by illegal off-take in Zinder region and in particular in the reserve and its vicinity.
Reneco for Wildlife Preservation has great experience in Houbara bustard monitoring over the species’ range and they recently started to collect data on Arabian bustard in Yemen by equipping birds with GPS/Satellite transmitters. Therefore, with the support of the International Fund for Houbara Conservation, Reneco and SCF have partnered to improve information on genetics, distribution and seasonal movements of the Arabian bustard in Niger. Nine Arabian bustards (6 males et 3 females) have been equipped with GPS/Satellite transmitters during a two week mission in Niger, on the western edge of the Termit & Tin Toumma National Nature Reserve. Four traditional hunters, appointed by the Sultan of Zinder, were part of the team and their expertise was used to catch the birds carefully. Indeed, traditional hunters are associated with the City of Zinder's Sultan, from whom they get their permission to hunt. SCF has worked closely with the Sultan to explain the emergency facing wildlife and bustards in particular and to raise the fact that traditional hunters are key actors to prevent illegal hunting in Niger.
In addition to successfully equipping the birds, critical information about the poachers, their habits and the way they hunt, has been collected during the mission thanks to the knowledge and the collaboration of the traditional hunters. Appropriate anti-poaching missions will be soon conducted by the rangers to tackle this issue.
In addition to the monitoring of these tagged Arabian Bustards in Niger, SCF records systematically during the fieldwork direct sightings of all the bustard species and in particular the Nubian bustards and the Denham bustards in Chad during their seasonal migration in the wet season. SCF aims to improve the knowledge about the distribution and the ecology of these two species in the near future by tagging them as well with GPS/Satellite transmitters.