Small brown duck seeks permanent home

Madagascar pochard duck
CC BY 2.0 Darwin Initiative/Flickr

Researchers from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust are looking for a home for the last 25 Madagascar pochard. The ducks are currently found in one wetland in north-eastern Madagascar but will need a new wetland with more food to survive.

So far they have been pretty resilient birds. Though they were declared extinct, they were found again in 2006. Their current wetland is the only place that hasn't been too damaged by deforestation, farming and fishing to house the birds, but its conditions are not suitable for reproduction.

Researchers found that 96 percent of ducklings died within two or three weeks because the lake is too deep for them to reach food. Options are limited for a new habitat, made worse by the fact that in the last 60 years, 60 percent of Madagascar's wetlands have been destroyed.

The good news is that ducks bred in captivity have been doing well. Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust successfully hatched more than 20 ducklings (about half the population!) and researchers hope to introduce them to another lake soon.

But reintroduction will be challenging, especially since the lake researchers have in mind is home to about 6,000 people who rely on it for fishing, reported Bird Watch.

"The main thing we have to do is work with the local people to reintroduce and restore the pochard, but also to restore the lake and help people to get a better livelihood from the lake they live around," Dr. Geoff Hilton from the Wildlife and Wetlands told the BBC.

Madagascar pochard ducklings© Garth Cripps || WWT

Small brown duck seeks permanent home
The world's rarest duck - the Madagascar pochard - needs a new environment if it's going to survive