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Fota Wildlife Park contributed €250,000 to help bring Madagascar Pochard back from extinction

Fota Wildlife Park contributed €250,000 to help bring Madagascar Pochard back from extinction

Efforts to release 21 pochard ducklings onto Lake Sofia in Northern Madagascar in November to feature in upcoming Virgin Television series on Fota Wildlife Park

Fota Wildlife Park is delighted to announce that their donations of a quarter of a million euro have been essential in funding a ten-year project to save the Madagascar Pochard from extinction, which culminated in the successful and pioneering release of 21 pochard ducklings this year in Madagascar. Out of the total €250,000 donated, €100,000 was generated through monies from Fota Wildlife Park’s popular duck feeder. The project is run in conjunction with the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) who are directly involved in the conservation of the species. 

The bird is considered to be the rarest in the world and was thought to be extinct up to 13 years ago when a chance rediscovery on a remote crater lake led to the rescue and reintroduction operation by Durrell, WWT and partners. In 2009, they took one-day-old chicks from the lake to rear in captivity at a nearby breeding centre. The captive population was painstakingly increased to 114 live birds today from the rediscovered 25 adults remaining in the wild.


The project saw staff of Fota Wildlife Park help out in transferring the hatchling birds from the breeding centre to the floating aviaries on the lake in Madagascar last November, in preparation for release, in a piece that was filmed by Red Pepper Productions for a documentary series on Fota that Virgin Media One is due to air in the near future. Sean McKeown, director of Fota Wildlife Park said: “Fota Wildlife Park’s commitment to the Madagascar Pochard conservation has meant that the first 21 birds from the breeding centre are now swimming freely on Lake Sofia in Madagascar– and we were delighted to see first-hand the massive undertaking from Durrell and the WWT to make this happen. It has taken a decade to reach this moment from what began as chicks in the breeding centre to pochard ducklings now living on Lake Sofia.” He continued: “The Virgin Media One series will focus on the global importance of Fota Wildlife Park as a zoological institution and the part it plays in international cooperative programmes, such as this unique conservation project. And it’s great to be able to show the difference that our visitor’s spare change in our duck feeder slot machine made with such an immense undertaking and of such importance in terms of global conservation.”

Established for over 35 years, Fota Wildlife Park is a zoological conservation charity and is also one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions. Fota Wildlife Park is a leading contributor to the conservation of national and global biodiversity through conservation education in fostering greater public understanding of the threats to the biodiversity of animal and plant habitats, and the breeding of endangered species and the promotion of conservation work worldwide.