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Pochards should survive!

World’s rarest bird is being saved in Madagascar

Photograph: Ben Sadd/WWT/PA
Reading time 3 minutes

An international group of researchers released into wild artificially grown birds in the area of North Madagascar. Two dozen of Madagascan pochards should be a step towards recovery of the species believed to be extinct for 15 years. The pochard’s rescue can also be beneficial in protecting swamps of Madagascar.

Why is this species endangered?
The duck found a new home on a remote lake of Madagascar. Ph: WWT

Pochards were believed to be extinct for 15 years. But in 2006 a small flock of birds was found on one of the remote lakes of Madagascar. There were the last 25 Madagascan pochards on Earth. Their habitats were polluted, the remaining birds were found in a remote untouched swamp. Rob Shaw, the director of The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust company (WWT), explained on BBC News that these ducks tried to survive in the environment which was not suitable for them. Their shelter was too deep and cold for pochards’ vital activity. Rob Shaw underlined that other parts of Madagascar can be dangerous for these birds, because of accumulation of precipitation, pollution, thoughtless agricultural practices. This set of problems creates an unfavorable environment for Madagascan pochards.

How the species was saved
One of the key moments is raising in captivity. Ph: WWT

This painstaking work took more than a decade. An international team consisting of WWT, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, and The Peregrine Fund members saved the eggs of Madagascan pochards and raised the birds in captivity.

To protect the ducks, on Lake Sofia were installed floating enclosures. Then the team investigated Madagascar’s territory on order to find a perfect place for pochards. The team worked closely with local communities living around the lake and using its water, fish, and plants.

To protect the ducks, on Lake Sofia were installed floating enclosures. Ph: WWT

Nigel Jarrett from WWT explained: «It takes a village to raise a child, so the old African proverb goes – but in this case it has taken a village to raise a duck. We have been preparing for this moment for over a decade. Working with local communities to solve the issues which were driving this bird to extinction has been essential to giving the pochard a chance of survival.»

The team believes that the return of a bird being on verge of extinction will serve as an example of how communities can preserve wildlife even in areas with the poorest populations.


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