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The Madagascar teal is one of the world’s rarest and least known species of wildfowl. Also known as Bernier’s teal, it was first described in 1860, but because it was so poorly known, the species was considered ‘rediscovered’ when found on lakes along the west coast of Madagascar in 1969. A survey in 1992 revealed this shy and retiring teal to have a desperately small population, thought to be largely due to encroachment on their habitat by humans - the birds needed urgent help.
Durrell decided to begin a captive breeding programme in Jersey and in 1993 four wild teal were caught, which frustratingly all turned out to be male (these little ducks are notoriously difficult to sex). It was not until 1995, with the arrival of two females, which had proved rather elusive, that the captive breeding part of the rescue strategy got underway. In 1998 the Madagascar teal bred at Durrell for the first time ever in captivity, and to date around 100 young have been reared at the Trust's headquarters - it seems that we’ve made them feel at home!
Also crucial to the conservation of this ‘little brown job,’ which still faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future, is extensive research on its behaviour and needs here at Durrell and in its natural habitat, as well as the support and education of local people in Madagascar.
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