World's rarest duck given a second start thanks to Durrell

  • Video credit: Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

The World's rarest duck, the Madagascar pochard, has escaped extinction following a successful conservation project by Durrell in Jersey.

The species was thought to be extinct for 15 years until it was rediscovered in 2006.

20 ducklings were taken from the wild in 2009 and now the captive population stands at over 100 birds in Madagascar.

Around 70 ducks remain in the wild at the site in Bemanevika, Northern Madagascar.

To help secure the species' future, conservationists are releasing a new population on Lake Sofia.

Durrell's Wildlife Conservation Trust team who have been conducting the breeding programme Credit: Durrell

Last year, Durrell's Wildlife Conservation Trust team released 35 captive-bred ducks at the lake.

Durrell's Head of Birds, Dr Glyn Young, said: "The current releases are a fantastic achievement and a testament to the entire team on the ground in Madagascar: those looking after the captive population and breeding and rearing birds for release to those ensuring that the ducks have settled in safely to their new home on Lake Sofia.

"Reflecting back to when the project first started in 1989 and there seemed no hope for the species, I am so proud to be where we are today. The pochard is not yet safe but it has a fighting chance thanks to this wonderful team."

The floating aviary used by the pochards before they were released Credit: Durrell

Durrell's Wetlands Manager, Felix Razafindrajao, said: "For these releases, we have built on the success from 2018. This included increasing the time the birds spent in the floating aviaries, so they adjust to the site and their first experience of the wild.

"Implementing these changes allowed us to ensure the welfare of the birds as we could observe them for longer in the floating aviaries as well as upon release onto the lake." Durrell's help with the revival of Madagascar's wetlands has been welcomed by the local population.

Villagers held a traditional ancestors' blessing ceremony called a "Joro" to ask their ancestors for good fortune for the "Fotsimaso", as the bird is known locally.

Durrell are planning further releases in Madagascar in 2022.