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Rare, almost extinct duck finds new home on the lake in Madagascar

The Madagascar pochard was believed to be extinct before a researcher discovered a small herd in 2006.
(MST)

A kind of duck that was considered extinct for more than a decade, has found a new home in a lake in the north of Madagascar, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (MST) in the united kingdom announced this week.

Twenty Madagascar pochards — that is a duck species considered extremely rare and possibly extinct for 15 years — to be released this month of floating aviaries or cages, made of Scottish salmon-farming cages.

The ducks spent a week in the aviaries — sent from the united kingdom to Madagascar in the summer — Sophia before they were released. During this time, the Madagascar pochards became accustomed to their surroundings.

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After they were released, the birds quickly adapted to the lake, diving and flying, the pair with other wild ducks, and return to the safety of the floating aviaries to feed and roost,” the MST said in a press release.

What one thought the last Madagascar pochards unexpectedly discovered in 2006 in the northwestern part of the country, by Lily-Arison Rene de Roland, national director of the Madagascar Project, the bird conservation organisation, The Peregrine Fund.

While the Madagascar pochards there were to reproduce, their ducks had a hard time with survival, because the lake where they were found was too deep and cold, The Guardian reported.

In 2009, one-day-old chicks of the lake, in the northwest of Madagascar were taken by conservationists to be raised in captivity. Today, there are more than 100 pochards in captivity, according to the publication.

Since the discovery, conservationists are “carefully planning ” the birds’ release, according to the MST.

Common pochard ducklings hatched in October were more than 100 miles away from where they are born are to be held in lakeside aviaries. Then, just before they were able to fly, [of the birds] is moved to the floating aviaries,” the MST said, that noted “other floating equipment – feeding stations and loafing rafts – also have a specially designed and installed on the lake to give the birds the best possible chance to survive.”

The birds will probably not survive if they are Sophia, because the swamps in the north of Madagascar are in poor condition, and are “severely degraded by human intervention.”

More specifically, non-native fish, such as carp and tilapia — which were introduced to the wetlands exacerbated the pochards’ struggle for survival, Glyn Young, the head of birds at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, who also worked to save the species, told The Guardian.

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“It takes a village to raise a child, so that the old African proverb goes, but in this case, it takes a village to raise a duck,” Nigel Jarrett, the MST the head of call breeding, said in a statement. “We have been preparing for this moment for more than a decade. The logistics of working in a remote part of Madagascar, where access to the lakes by vehicle is only possible for three months per year – are a huge challenge to us to come up with new approaches.”

Jarrett explained to local communities are “essential” in order for the birds to survive.

“Working with local communities to solve the problems that were driving this bird threatened with extinction is essential for giving the pochard have a chance to survive,” he said. “If we can make this work, it will provide a powerful example not only of how the rescue of the world’s most endangered species, but how communities can manage an ecosystem, to the benefit of people and animals, especially in areas of significant poverty.”

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