The Madagascar Pochard, Aythya innotata, is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. It is the rarest duck in the world and with no sightings for 15 years, it was presumed extinct until 2006 when 20 individuals were surprisingly discovered. They were found living in a few remote lakes in the highlands of NW Madagascar, many hundreds of kilometres from the site where they were last seen.
Widespread in upland Madagascar in the early 20th Century, the Pochard disappeared following the introduction of exotic fish into lakes across the island. Its potential recovery is further threatened by extensive conversion of wetlands to rice production, and certain fishing practices which are deadly to diving ducks.
A species restoration project aims to protect remaining habitat, restore historically occupied wetlands and initiate a captive breeding programme. Eggs collected from nests in October 2009 hatched successfully in captivity and the ducks are now fully grown, thereby doubling the world population and founding a captive population which will hopefully ensure the survival of the Madagascar Pochard.