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Last Updated: Monday, 1 November, 2004, 11:10 GMT
Dubai first to breed at-risk bird
By Julia Wheeler
BBC Gulf correspondent

Socotra Cormorant
Development threatens the Socotra Cormorant (Image: Tommy Pedersen)
A zoo in the Gulf has successfully bred a bird which is threatened by the fast pace of development in the region.

Dubai Zoo says it is the first in the world to achieve captive breeding of the Socotra Cormorant.

The distinctive black bird is indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula and the is mostly found there.

It has come under threat because its natural habitats - the islands in the Gulf - are increasingly being developed for residential and tourist use.

Development threat

In the wild, colonies of the elegant black Socotra Cormorant are under threat.

The species takes its name from the Yemeni island of Socotra, just off the east coast of Somalia, and 95% of its worldwide population is believed to live on or around the Arabian Peninsula.

But development in coastal regions like Bahrain's Hawar Islands, Khor al-Bidah in the United Arab Emirates and other areas further north towards Kuwait means the birds are being disturbed and so are less likely to breed.

Dubai Zoo says it has now successfully bred Socotra Cormorant chicks in captivity and has 11 breeding pairs.

The eight chicks already born are under a week old - more are expected with other birds currently sitting on nests.

After a year the chicks will be released at a pond in one of the city's parks where they'll initially be fed with fish.

It is then hoped they will fly towards the nearby Gulf waters and live in the wild.

Keepers at the zoo say the chicks are being kept among other bird species, but away from the pelicans in particular, which are known to eat the young of smaller birds.

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