Saving world’s rarest duck helps restore important Madagascar wetlands

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Information on World Wildlife Day that 35 of the world’s rarest geese have been efficiently launched into the wild has highlighted the pivotal function these birds play in our formidable mission to revive wetlands in Madagascar.

The discharge is the newest stage of an against-the-odds mission to avoid wasting the Critically Endangered Madagascar pochard – an operation that completely captures the theme of this yr’s World Wildlife Day: recovering key species for ecosystem restoration.

The pochard was believed extinct till a small variety of birds had been rediscovered at a distant web site in 2006, which led to WWT and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Belief securing eggs from the wild to determine a captive-breeding centre on the island.

That web site was unsuitable for a diving duck, so securing the pochard’s long-term future meant establishing a brand new inhabitants within the wild at one other web site – Lake Sofia.

Madagascar Pochard, copyright Markus Lagerqvist, from the surfbirds galleries

WWT Mission Supervisor Peter Cranswick defined that this may be a “very vital problem”. Since 1960, over 60% of the island’s wetlands have been misplaced and people remaining are closely degraded by sedimentation, air pollution, and fishing practices.

Lake Sofia can also be in poor situation, even perhaps unable to assist pochards, requiring a big mission to revive the location.

“The key consideration in rural Madagascar is that native communities depend on wetlands for water for his or her crops, for fish, for assets to make on a regular basis items,” stated Peter.

“So the restoration was obligatory to fulfill the wants of the 15,000 folks whose livelihoods and wellbeing are intimately entwined with the lake. Before everything, we needed to restore a lake for the native communities, which might then even be new dwelling for the duck.

”A wholesome lake will present extra assets for the communities, and profit the wildlife. Restoration requires all stakeholders to take part and to agree the method – from village leaders, farmers and fisherfolk, to authorities businesses. Saving the world’s rarest fowl is a key a part of making a persuasive narrative, and bringing many various teams collectively to avoid wasting a wetland.”

Final yr’s launch was the second on the lake, and introduced the full variety of birds to 47. Notably encouraging for the long-term success, the birds launched in 2018 have already bred efficiently.

“By rights, we shouldn’t be releasing pochards at Lake Sofia: the logistical challenges are huge, and the location is unsuitable in some ways, requiring vital effort, willpower, and never somewhat ingenuity,” added Peter.

“However this work will accomplish that way more than save the world’s rarest duck – it is going to restore an entire ecosystem for a variety of threatened wildlife and, extra importantly, for the individuals who stay off and round Lake Sofia. They would be the guardians of a flourishing wetland that helps their wants. In that story, the pochard will ultimately develop into simply considered one of many gamers, however the duck was the central character on web page one which enticed everybody to maintain studying.”

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