British experts save rare bird from extinction

IT had been thought to be extinct until a small group was discovered. Now the world’s rarest bird has been brought back from the brink by British experts and has a new home.

The Madagascar pochard, a species of duck, was believed to have died out in 1991. 

But in 2006 a colony was found by chance. 

The Madagascar pochard, a species of duck, was believed to have died out in 1991 [File photo]

The Madagascar pochard, a species of duck, was believed to have died out in 1991 [File photo]

The Madagascar pochard, a species of duck, was believed to have died out in 1991 [File photo]

To save the ducks, conservationists at Gloucestershire-based WWT (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) converted salmon-farming cages into the world’s first floating aviaries to create a habitat for them on remote Lake Sofia in Madagascar.

Twenty-one ducklings were hatched in October and transported to the lake, reared in lakeside aviaries and in early December, just before they were able to fly, moved into the floating cages. 

WWT hopes the Madagascar pochards are now accustomed to their new surroundings and will remain at the site following their release – adding to the wild population there, which numbers just 25.

To save the ducks, conservationists at Gloucestershire-based WWT (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) converted salmon-farming cages into the world¿s first floating aviaries

To save the ducks, conservationists at Gloucestershire-based WWT (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) converted salmon-farming cages into the world¿s first floating aviaries

To save the ducks, conservationists at Gloucestershire-based WWT (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) converted salmon-farming cages into the world’s first floating aviaries

The island’s other wetlands are so polluted it is unlikely the ducks will survive if they leave the lake.

Nigel Jarrett, head of conservation breeding at the WWT, said: ‘If we can make this work, it will provide a powerful example for how to save the planet’s most threatened species.’

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