Lake Alaotra was declared a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2003 (15), and efforts have been underway at the site to conserve and restore the last remnants of unmodified habitat, which should also benefit other threatened species. Other conservation measures have included education and awareness programmes, involving local communities in environmental monitoring, and continuing the search for any remaining Madagascar pochards. However, the region’s huge economic importance for agriculture and fisheries can make implementing conservation policies difficult (7) (12). It may also be important to establish reserves and prohibit hunting in the area (2) (9).
The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, together with The Peregrine Fund, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) and the Government of Madagascar, are conducting further surveys at the rediscovery site, which is now permanently guarded, and are seeking formal protection for the area (7) (8). Unfortunately, all the young from the 2008 breeding season were lost, and after an expedition in July 2009 found fewer than 20 adult birds, including just 6 females, a specialist team undertook a rescue mission to bring eggs from the 2009 breeding season into captivity. The eggs were successfully hatched, and it is hoped that this will mark the start of a long-term captive breeding and conservation programme, not only to bring the Madagascar pochard back from the brink of extinction, but also to help restore the region’s wetlands for the benefit of both wildlife and people (6) (10) (14).