UK team helps to save rare bustard

February 28, 1997

ONE OF the world's most endangered birds, the Houbara bustard, has found saviours at the University of Abertay Dundee school of molecular and life sciences.

Researchers at the university are battling to save the bustard, which is roughly the same size as a small turkey and lives in the deserts of north Africa and southwest Asia. Today is under threat from human encroachment on its native habitat.

Experts from the university's avian reproduction group have been called in to help scientists from the Morocco-based International Foundation for the Conservation and Development of Wild-life with a huge captive breeding programme aimed at releasing hundreds of birds back into the countryside every year.

The team, led by Graham Wishart, plans to use artificial insemination to build up a flock of more than 300 breeding female birds using artificial insemination. It is developing systems for collecting and storing the sperm needed for the programme. The project includes modern cryo- preservation equipment recently acquired by the IFCDW for long- term storage of sperm.

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