Working for birds in Africa

In search of the Madagascar Pochard - the world's rarest duck

Date posted: 
Saturday, August 22, 2009

We’re in search of the world’s rarest duck. Actually we aren’t really, because thanks to the dedicated work of the The Peregrine Fund, we know where it is. But we also know that there are only a handful left. In fact until it was rediscovered by the TPF’s Lily Arison René de Roland in 2006, the duck was thought to have gone extinct.

On a couple of small lakes some 300 km north of Antananarivo are fewer than 20 Madagascar Pochard. Although once part of an extensive wetland system throughout the central plateau these are now the last remaining unmarred high elevation volcanic lakes of their kind.

Having such a small population means that even if the number of ducks remains stable, it is incredibly vulnerable to any random event, like a storm, that might wipe them out. Getting this species back to relatively safe numbers is a major priority and it was decided that an in situ captive breeding programme to build up numbers for release onto other lakes was the best way to go. This would be coupled with protection and study of the species in its remaining habitat. A partnership was formed between ourselves, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), The Peregrine Fund (TPF) and Ministry of L’Environement et Forêts (E & F).

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