The Houbara bustards have adapted to desert environments, and it is a shy bird that varies in feeding in dry, open areas. And because it is the main prey of Arab falconers, it has been considered by those concerned with wildlife and the renewable use of natural resources a media subject of priority. The decrease in the number of Houbara bustards in the Kingdom is due to overfishing and the deterioration of its natural environment as a result of overgrazing, agricultural development, and the transformation of the Houbara from a widely spread and breeding bird in the Kingdom to small scattered groups subject to protection in the Harat al-Hara PA in the far north of the Kingdom. The center’s researchers are working side by side with the center’s Rangers to protect what remains of these birds.
In order to preserve this desert bird from extinction in the Kingdom, the Captive Breeding Houbara Project was established at the Prince Saud Al Faisal Center for Wildlife Research. The main objective of the project was to form a group that could self-breed and reproduce Houbara chicks that could be reintroduced in the suitable habitats in the Kingdom.
This reintroduction will establish new natural breeding populations. The center succeeded in hatching the first Houbara egg in 1989. As a result of improving methods of artificial insemination and incubation. This coincided with the results of the physiological research on reproductive, nutrition and growth of houbara. The center was able to produce sufficient numbers that were first launched in nature in 1991 in Mahazat as-Sayd Protected Area. And between 1991 - 1998, the number of birds released in the protected area reached 330 birds. Birds began to naturally reproduce in the reserve in 1995 and recorded the first nests of Houbara bustards in the center of the Kingdom after a lapse of more than forty years.
After ten years of work, the center was able to breed Houbara in large numbers annually, amounting to 300 birds in 1999. The success continued with the production of more than 2000 Houbaras during the ten years of the beginning of work in the center.