Great news for critically endangered species

Rare Meller’s ducks hatch at Washington Wetland Centre - Wildfowl & Wetland Trust

A duck on the verge of becoming critically endangered has successfully bred at a Wearside wetland reserve.

Four Meller’s ducklings – one of the world’s rarest and least known species of waterfowl – hatched on 7 July at Washington Wetland Centre, where they are now thriving and on show for visitors to see, under the watchful eye of expert keepers.

Although adult Meller’s ducks look similar to a female common mallard, they are a distinct species native only to Madagascar, with as few as 1,300 thought to exist in the wild due to hunting and habitat destruction.

This makes their arrival – the first in eight years and only the second time ever in the site’s 47-year history – an incredibly important conservation breeding achievement for both the WWT Washington team and the species as a whole.

The centre’s Living Collections manager Rhys McKie said: “Although to many it appears to be just a simple brown bird, the Meller’s duck is actually one of the world’s rarest and least known species of waterfowl and one of only three duck species that occur naturally in Madagascar. “They are classed as endangered at the moment but that looks due to be changed to critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List, the official information source on the global conservation status of different species. “To have them successfully hatch here at WWT Washington for the first time in eight years and only the second time ever is such an important conservation breeding moment, both for our team and the species as a whole.”

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Posted On: 20/07/2022

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