Adorable ducklings offer hope for the world's rarest bird (Video)
With a wild population which stands at around 22 individuals, Madagascar Pochards are believed to be the most critically endangered bird in the world. But thanks to the recent hatching of 18 adorable young hatchlings in captivity, conservationists are hopeful that this species of duck can be brought back from the edge of extinction.
Although these ducks were once common throughout Madagascar, decades of habitat loss and the predation of invasive species, they were believed to have been wiped out entirely by the early 1990s. But when a small group of less than two dozen was rediscovered clinging to survival along the shores of a remote lake in 2006, biologists from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) set about trying to revive their numbers.
And now, for the very first time, those endangered Madagascar Pochards have successfully bred in captivity -- producing a batch of offspring that nearly doubles their numbers in the wild.
Did I mention they're adorable?
Researchers studying this newfound population observed a troublingly high mortality rate among ducklings due to a high level of competition among adults to find food in the birds' now limited haven. But with this first fruitful attempt at breeding them in captivity, the rare species' chances for survival are far improved.