The world's rarest duck is now said to be making a comeback in Madagascar. Apparently, it was back in 1991 when conservationists were quite convinced that the Madagascar pochard had completely fallen off the biodiversity map.
However, thanks to 22 individuals found inhabiting Lake Matsaborimena, conservationists were able to roll out several breeding programs. Thus, the ducks' eggs were collected and incubated in captivity.
Conservationists explain that they had to take the eggs under their care both because Lake Matsaborimena does not constitute an ideal habitat for this species, and because they feared that the newly-hatched ducklings might be affected by various diseases.
“Although Lake Matsaborimena is the last hiding place for the ducks, it is far from ideal as a habitat,” specialist Peter Cranswick reportedly said.
“Our initial investigations suggest there is too little food and this may be leading to the low survival of the ducklings; in effect, they are starving to death,” he further explained.
These breeding programs eventually led to a boom in both the captive and the wild Madagascar pochard population, Mongabay informs us.
In fact, conservationists say that, all things considered, the initial 22-individual population has nearly quadrupled throughout these past few years.
Specialists hope that, at some point in the not so distant future, they will be able to reintroduce some of the ducks now kept in captivity to their natural habitats.
However, in order for that to happen, the conservationists must first find suitable locations where the birds would thrive.
“The 58 Madagascar pochards in the captive breeding centre provide a safety net for the population if the tiny wild population were to go extinct.”
“We are now conducting detailed research in Madagascar to determine the species' critical needs and to identify possible sites for future reintroductions,” Peter Cranswick said.
The Madagascar pochard is an average-sized species of diving duck. Once under the water, it can spend up to two minutes swimming around and looking for something to snack on.