The Moroccan government has a firm commitment to the protection of its biodiversity and has set up a protected area network comprising 3 National Parks (Souss-Massa, Toubkal and Tazekka), 4 proposed National and Natural Parks and 146 existing or proposed nature reserves.
Morocco is party to a number of international treaties including Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution and Wetlands.
There are however significant environmental issues including land degradation and desertification with soil erosion resulting from farming of marginal areas, overgrazing and the destruction of vegetation, water supplies contaminated by raw sewage, silting of reservoirs and the oil pollution of coastal waters.
As a result of a conservation programme initiated in 1994/5 by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) on behalf of BirdLife International and the Moroccan National Parks Service, numbers of Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita have been increasing. Conservation measures have included the employment of local staff as wardens and the construction of drinking points to provide clean water close to the breeding cliffs. The main causes of breeding failures have been loss of eggs to predators and poor chick survival as a result of starvation and predation (BOWDEN, C. October 2003).
Surveys of the Moroccan population of the globally threatened Great Bustard Otis tarda undertaken between 1998 amd 2001 found up to about 90 birds. Population size for spring was estimated at 92-111 individuals and 117-133 for winter. Breeding was confirmed. The birds are threatened by illegal hunting, habitat loss through agricultural intensification, road building, disturbance and accidents at powerlines and antennas.
9th April 2008: North African houbara release 'very exciting'
Abu Dhabi: In line with the UAE's strategic efforts to increase the number of houbaras in the wild, General Shaikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has participated in the release of more than 5,000 North African houbaras.
General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed participated in the event which happened in an area of about 300km inside the eastern desert of Morocco. General Shaikh Mohammad said: "This release of the houbaras in North Africa was necessary to meet the continuous decline of houbara numbers due to the destruction of their wintering and breeding habitat, over-trapping and over-hunting in addition to illegal trade, all of which require insistent steps to restore a healthy houbara population in the wild."
The released houbaras had been bred in captivity at the Emirates Centre for Wildlife Propagation (ECWP) in Missour, Morocco. This release is considered to be the largest reintroduction of endangered species into the wild so far. The Houbara Bustard, the species that has been reintroduced has been seriously threatened by a combination of detrimental factors as well as habitat loss.
Source: Gulf News