Renaud developed the world-renowned houbara breeding and release programme

IFHC praises key conservation partner and ‘modern-day conservation icon’

Abu Dhabi, UAE: The International Fund For Houbara Conservation (IFHC), the global leader in species conservation, congratulates its much respected partner Jacques Renaud, founder of RENECO International Wildlife Consultants, who was honoured by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for his outstanding work to preserve the houbara bustard at the 10th Abu Dhabi Awards.

Throughout more than 50 years of devotion to wildlife protection, Jacques has pioneered the drive to secure a sustainable future for species such as White Storks and the houbara bustard, in addition to championing raptor conservation. As a skilled falconer, Jacques’ expert eye for conservation in the GCC shone through in the 1970s and, recognising that houbara were becoming increasingly rare in the wild, he set about developing a solution.

The result was a captive breeding programme and the formation of RENECO, which now manages four IFHC conservation centres, the National Avian Research Center (NARC), in Sweihan, the Sheikh Khalifa Breeding Centre, at Seih Al Salem (both in Abu Dhabi); the Emirates Center for Wildlife Propagation (ECWP) in Missour/Enjil, Morocco and the Sheikh Khalifa Houbara Breeding Centre in Kazakhstan.

Jacques’ passion and dedication have not only secured a future for an emblematic species; they have also helped protect Arabian falconry, ensuring that elements of deep-rooted heritage and traditions prevail. The programme has become a global benchmark for pre-emptive species conservation, with more than 553,000 Asian and North-African houbara chicks bred across the network to date. Over 375,000 have been released into the wild in 14 countries along the houbara’s migratory range to help achieve viable wild houbara populations.

Commenting on the award for Jacques Renaud, His Excellency Majid Al Mansouri, Managing Director, IFHC, said: “I thank His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his continuous support in our conservation efforts and initiatives, and for commending Jacques Renaud who throughout his career has pioneered the drive to secure a sustainable future for species such as White Storks and the houbara bustard. In addition to championing raptor conservation, making him a modern-day hero for vulnerable species.”

“Without his passion, dedication and desire to further the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, our Founding Father, to address declining numbers, the houbara may well have been facing an altogether different future. This award is thoroughly deserved and a testament to Jacques’ devotion. We are honoured to have such a committed partner in conservation. Furthermore, as we mark IFHC’s 15th anniversary of conservation excellence, this award exhibits the efforts and commitment of our team in preserving the species across the houbara range countries.”

Jacques’ ability to recognise the threat and act to preserve the Houbara all those years ago, means the UAE’s future generation retain a crucial link to the country’s past and understand the important role of the Houbara in the ecosystem.

Furthermore, Jacques is a member of the ANFA, the French falconers’ association and also established ‘La Volerie des Aigles’, a falcon and eagle show in France, where visitors get to observe and interact with birds of prey and receive an introduction to raptor conservation.

In addition to its renowned breeding and release initiatives, IFHC is striving to foster greater global dialogue on conservation and has a number of agreements in place with countries around the world. It most recently signed an MoU with the Israel National Heritage Fund to spearhead an extensive study to protect and preserve the houbara bustard and other rare and threatened bird species in Israel.