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RIYADH: The Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Nature Reserve in the northeast of the Kingdom has begun constructing an advanced aviculture center, with a mission to preserve wildlife and safeguard the endangered houbara bustard, a rare desert bird, within its natural environment, Saudi Press Agency reported.

A ceremony was held to mark the start of the aviculture center, which will house 22 facilities, including administrative buildings, breeding facilities, clinics and laboratories.

Located in the southwestern part of the reserve and extending over 4 sq km, the center aims to start its initial breeding phase by the end of 2024. It is anticipated to ultimately house up to 25,000 birds, marking a significant move in conservation efforts within the reserve.

“The establishment of the center is a crucial step toward increasing the population of the houbara bustard, a rare bird species facing extinction,” said Mohammed Al-Shaalan, the reserve’s CEO.

He emphasized the reserve’s commitment to wildlife protection, ecological balance, scientific research and studies, and involving the local community in environmental conservation efforts to ensure sustainability.

Al-Shaalan added: “This first-of-its-kind facility in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provides a meticulously designed simulated natural habitat for the houbara bustard.

“The completely enclosed center will be dedicated to specialized studies, research activities, and the reintroduction of the houbara bustard into suitable natural habitats within the reserve.

“Additionally, it will contribute to the economic well-being of the local community by creating new employment opportunities,” he said.

Spanning 91,500 sq km, the reserve ranks as the Kingdom’s second-largest royal reserve and is celebrated for its stunning landscapes and rich biodiversity. It is home to rare species such as Arabian gazelles, Arabian oryx and Arabian ostriches, as well as a wide variety of flora.

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