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寻求保护世界稀有鸭之路

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  生态环境保护者们已迈出了他们保护世界稀有鸭——马达加斯加红头潜鸭的第一步。

  在克服了恶劣的天气和疾病的阻碍后,一组人员成功地为红头潜鸭安置了一套小型饲育设备。

  当科学家们意识到这种禽类已离灭绝的边缘如此接近的时候,立刻制定了救援计划。

  红头潜鸭在二十世纪九十年代末被认为已灭绝。它们在2006年被重新发现,但现在已被归为极度濒临灭绝品种。

  此项目涉及到达雷尔野生动物保护信托野生鸟类和湿地基金会(WWT)

  这种鸟类只在马达加斯加的一个火山湖中被发现过。

在野外仅发现了25只马达加斯加潜头红鸭

  今年早期,一组观测队在观察此湖时仅发现6只雌鸭,并给出证据一些仅几周大小的雏鸭已死亡。

  于是决定通过饲养繁育计划来保护仅存的少数鸭子。

  观测鸭

  科学家在繁殖期观测这些鸭,并着重注意雌鸭何时准备生蛋。

  然后“鸭专家”飞往马达加斯加带回这些宝贵的蛋进行繁育。

这八只小鸭在它们的临时住宅里生长得很好

  达雷尔的格林杨博士说在蛋孵化前到达湖边是“在与时间赛跑”。

  “巨大的暴风雨已让我们延迟到达那个国家。所有设备全部清关后,我们不得不等了三天,直到那个桥修好,那是通往湖边的唯一道路。”他回忆道。

  “好象上天要增加我们的困难,到终于到了湖边后,我们所有人都生病了!”

  但是,在经历了所有的阻碍后,这个小组租用了当地一家旅馆的一部分创建了临时的繁育场所。

  然后,他们到湖边,从湖边的鸭巢中移走了一批即将要孵化的蛋。

  “蛋在湖边被孵化了”达雷尔的安德鲁特里说。

  “我们在帐篷里建起了实验室,里面有所有的设备,幼雏们在一个孵化器中被完好地孵化出来。”

  才一天大的幼雏被带到了四轮车上的设备里。“在那条危险的路上,那真是脆弱的8小时的旅程。”特里先生说。

  WWT的彼得科尔斯威克说:“安全地把鸭带进繁育机构标志着20或30年环境保护工程的开始,那也将有助于修复这片地区的湿地。”

  据报道,8只被挽救的幼鸭现在状况很好。他们代表着此种群的相当大一部分比例;到2008年止,仅在野外发现25只成年鸭。

  工作在继续,在接下来的几周类,这个小组将会尝试挽救另两窝即将孵化的蛋。

译文:Quest to save world's rarest duck

Conservationists have taken the first step in their quest to save the world's rarest duck - the Madagascar pochard.

After being hampered by harsh weather and illness, a team successfully set up a small rearing facility for the ducks.

This rescue plan was mounted when scientists realised how close the birds were to the brink of extinction.

The pochards were believed to be extinct in the late 1990s. They were rediscovered in 2006 but are now classified as critically endangered.

The project involved the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT).

The birds were found on only one volcanic lake in Madagascar.

Only 25 adult Madagascar pochards have been counted in the wild

A reconnaissance visit to the lake earlier this year spotted only six females and revealed evidence that chicks of just a few weeks old had died.

So the decision was made to protect the few remaining birds by setting up a captive breeding programme.

Duck-watching

Scientists monitored the birds during the breeding season and noted when the female birds were preparing to lay eggs.

"Duck specialists" then flew to Madagascar to bring the precious eggs into captivity.

The eight ducklings are doing well in their temporary home

Dr Glyn Young from Durrell said it was a "race against time" to get to the lake before the eggs started hatching.

"Massive electrical storms had delayed our arrival in the country. Once all the equipment had cleared Customs, we had to wait for three days as a bridge was repaired on the only access road to the lake," he recalled.

"To add to our woes, having finally made it to the lake, we all fell ill!"

But, after all the set-backs, the team commandeered part of a local hotel to create a temporary breeding facility.

They then travelled to the lake and removed a batch of ready-to-hatch eggs from a lake-side nest.

"The eggs were hatched by the side of the lake," said Andrew Terry from Durrell.

"We set up a lab in a tent with all the equipment and the chicks fully hatched out in an incubator."

The day-old chicks were then taken to the holding facility in a four-wheel-drive. "It was a delicate eight-hour journey on really dodgy roads," Mr Terry said.

Peter Cranswick from WWT said: "Safely bringing birds into captivity marks the start of a 20- or 30-year conservation project that will also help restore wetlands across the region."

Eight rescued ducklings are now reported to be doing very well. They represent a very large proportion of the population; as of 2008, only 25 adult birds were counted in the wild.

Work is continuing and the team will attempt to secure two more clutches in the coming few weeks.

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