The Madagascar Pochard - saving the world’s rarest bird  -  Peter Cranswick WWT

Peter Cranswick has been at the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust for around 30 years, in recent times focusing on the conservation of threatened species.  He enjoys project managing the new and unknown: aerial surveys of waterbirds, Flight of the Swans, saving the Madagascar Pochard – the more challenging - the better        

Once thought extinct, just 20 Madagascar Pochards survive on one small lake in the remote highlands of Madagascar.  Barely clinging to existence, nearly all the ducklings die each year.  This is the story of the many and varied challenges, first to save the species from the brink of extinction, and then to set about restoring it into the wild: no one in the Madagascar knew how to rear birds; the road to the lake is barely passable for three months a year and impossible at other times; the lakes in Madagascar are heavily degraded, used unsustainably by local communities, and none is suitable for Pochards.  And lastly, no one has successfully reintroduced a diving duck to the wild. Hear how a pioneering approach, some innovative thinking, and not a little determination is helping keep this duck’s head above water.

This is a proper conservation project but, first and foremost, it is a proper story.  Peter has given versions of this talk at many bird clubs, and it genuinely keeps people gripped throughout.  It is something that everyone can relate to easily – whether a birder, a conservationist, or a member of the public.  It paints a picture of the day-to-day challenges but also demonstrates the integrated approach needed for conservation to genuinely work.


In March 2020 the BTO launched their Chaffinch Appeal to raise funds to help them research why the UK population of Chaffinch is undergoing a significant decline. Read more ...

A survey where observers are each given a randomly selected 1km square and record all species and numbers of each for a minimum period of 2 hours between 9am and noon. Read more ...

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