|Wetland Centre Warden Helps Save World's Rarest Duck
And then gets himself engaged on trip to Madagascar
A local wildlife warden from WWT London Wetland Centre has been instrumental in leading a vital conservation mission to Madagascar. Londoner Idris Bhatti’s trip to the island in the Indian Ocean had a happy ending in more ways than one: the successful move of the captive population of the world’s rarest duck… and a resounding ‘yes’ from his girlfriend when he asked her to marry him.
The Madagascar pochard is a diving duck with a gleaming white eye. Like much of Madagascar’s wildlife, it is found nowhere else in the world and it is currently one of world’s rarest birds. It was twice feared extinct, but in 2006 a research team from The Peregrine Fund discovered a group of fewer than 20 birds surviving in isolation. So the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and The Peregrine Fund initiated a project to save the species.
In 2010 a team of wardens successfully incubated – in a temporary facility - 20 eggs that had been laid in the wild and effectively doubled the entire population.
This year Idris spent 90 days on the island, building a new breeding centre for the ducks and arranging their transfer from their temporary accommodation to a purpose built breeding facility in Antisohihy. The two sites were four hours' drive apart, so Idris and the conservation team spent many gruelling days working and travelling in the heat which often reached 42 degrees at midday.
Kenyan born Idris says his East African childhood proved a useful grounding in adapting to the climate and culture - in particular the pace of life - of Madagascar.
"My time on Madagascar was physically and mentally tough: constructing the new site, caring for the birds, co-ordinating the move, and troubleshooting. But it was worth every minute!"
WWT has now released a film chronicling the Madagascar pochard conservation project. The film tells the story of that initial emergency mission to Madagascar, in which the team secures eggs from the wild and hatches the first ducklings. Visit the London Wetland Centre from Tuesday 18 October to watch the film in the Centre’s art gallery
Anyone who wants to support the Project can text MADP33 to 70070 to make a £10 donation.
October 18, 2011