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Rare Madagascar ducks released into tropical habitat
The Living Rainforest is assisting international conservation efforts to save the Madagascar teal (Anas bernieri), whose natural populations are under serious threat.
As part of an international ex-situ breeding programme, The Living Rainforest this week released two female teal into its tropical houses. The rare ducks will live alongside over 600 other species of threatened rainforests plants and animals, including other Malagasy species in breeding programmes such as Golden Mantella and Tomato Frogs. The plan is that if the female teal settle in successfully, a male can be introduced for breeding purposes. The Living Rainforest is working in cooperation with colleagues at Jersey Zoo and the Malagasy Government, who set up the breeding programme.
In Madagascar, the rare birds live in estuaries and coastal mangrove forests on this large Indian Ocean island off the east coast of Africa. Unfortunately the bird has come under threat due to coastal wetlands being converted for rice production and aquaculture (e.g. shrimp farming). This has brought the birds into contact with people and high levels of subsistence hunting.
The species is classified as Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). In 2002, population numbers were estimated at only 1,500 to 2,500 but continued habitat destruction means that numbers may have declined even further. The species is listed in Apprendix II of CITES, the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species.
Madagascar has one of the highest levels of species ‘endemism’ (or uniqueness) in the world, due to its isolated island geography. On-going forest clearance means that literally hundreds of species are now threatened.
The teal release is the first of many events connected to Madagascar, as part of the 2007 Madagascar Campaign of EAZA, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. The Living Rainforest will be highlighting its ongoing commitment to sustainability in Madagascar and how people and wildlife affect one another in this global environmental hotspot. There will be information and photos from a recent Living Rainforest research trip to Madagascar and the charity’s work with the Madagascar Fauna Group. Frogs in general are failing to breed globally, even in zoos, and facilities like this are extremely important in international efforts as more and more frogs succumb to habitat loss, climate change and unsustainable harvesting. The Living Rainforest/MFG/IUCN DAPTF (Declining Amphibian Population Task Force) Frog Conservation Booklet will also be launched soon. There will be games, a slideshow, face painting, mask making, clay model making, talks and tours, t-shirt painting and story telling. The events will occur over Easter 2007 and other peak times (half term, summer holidays and so on) up to the end of the year.
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