Discover the world’s rarest duck

The Madagascar pochard was thought to be extinct for 15 years before a population was found living on a remote lake in 2006.

A lack of invertebrates in the lakes, increased siltation and invasive fish introduced to lakes led to the decline of pochard populations, caused by human exploitation of the environment.

Durrell's work with the species first began in 1989 and the captive breeding programme was established in 2009, with the first ducks hatching in 2011. Since then, the birds have been successfully breeding in captivity, and in 2018, a group of 21 individuals were released into the wild for the first time.

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Animal facts

Key facts about the Madagascar pochard

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I'm found in Madagascar

Pochards live in wetlands in Madagascar.

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I was thought to be extinct

This species was once believed to be extinct until its rediscovery in 2006.

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I'm known as the white-eyed duck

Males have a distinctive white iris that gives them their name.


Captive breeding programme starts


Released into wild


Estimated wild population

Since 2018, Durrell has released 56 pochards into the wild

Our conservation work

What we're doing to help save pochards

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Restoring wetlands

Madagascar’s wetlands, the pochard’s natural habitat, have been degraded by overexploitation by humans, with rice plantations taking over lakes, hunting for food and deforestation causing excessive siltation.
What we're doing to help
We're carrying out extensive wetland restoration across the country, rewilding the wetlands to provide safe and healthy environments for many species. Lake Sofia is the primary release site for pochards and is closely managed to ensure it remains an optimum habitat for the ducks.
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Promoting sustainable farming

Rice plantations provide livelihoods and food to local communities, and forests are destroyed to make way for agriculture but have caused many of Madagascar’s wetlands to almost completely disappear.
What we're doing to help
We support the local communities to find more sustainable methods of producing food. We’re empowering local people to respect, restore and protect their wetlands and educating them on the importance of their native species.
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Captive breeding and release

The rediscovered population of pochards was so small that it would not be self-sustaining, and the duck would have faced extinction without conservation action.
What we're doing to help
A breeding centre was set up to establish a captive population and provide a safe place for the ducks to live. Lake Sofia was identified as an ideal habitat for the species, and the world's first floating aviary was built on the lake, where the birds adjust to their surroundings before being released.
Meet Felix Razafindrajao, Coordinator of the Madagascar pochard project, and learn more about the work we’re doing to save the world's rarest duck.
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Our partners

Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

Asity Madagascar

The Peregrine Fund

Government of Madagascar

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