Four hatchlings of the Brazilian merganser (Mergus octosetaceus), a rare bird threatened with extinction, were born in a zoo in Itatiba, São Paulo state.
06/08/2017 | 12PM
Four hatchlings of the Brazilian merganser (Mergus octosetaceus), a rare bird threatened with extinction, were born in a zoo in Itatiba, São Paulo state, this week. This is the first time the species has bred in captivity. The Itatiba Zooparque is the country's largest private zoo.
Egg collection from the wild has made breeding possible. “In 2011 we got the first couple. In 2015, we went to a different region in the Jalapão and got genetically different specimen. We also went to Patrocínio and the Canastra mountains. Having visited all these different regions, we were able to pair up several couples and matrices,” Robert Frank Kooij, general manager of Zooparque, explained. When visitors will be allowed to see the ducklings is still open.
The chicks will eventually be released back into the wild. According to Kooij, the zoo wants to keep 10 breeding pairs. “Our goal is to have 10 couples so we can breed more ducklings and release them back where they used to be found, including Argentina and Brazil,” he told Agência Brasil.
The Brazilian merganser, a waterfowl known for its underwater fishing skills, is a rare species. There are currently around 200 specimen, all of them in Brazil. They are found in the regions of the Canastra Mountains and Patrocínio (Minas Gerais state), Chapada dos Veadeiros (Goiás state), and Jalapão (Tocantins state). In order to survive, it needs clean, transparent water, with rapids and plenty of fish, its main food.
“Raising the chicks is always difficult, but our efforts have paid off—this is the world's first captivity-hatched Brazilian merganser,” said Alexandre Resende, the veterinarian responsible for the captivity protocol for the species and head of the Veterinary Department of the Itatiba Zooparque. He was involved in the process all the way since egg collection in the different regions.
According to ICMBio, the population of Brazilian mergansers is decreasing due to loss of habitat caused by deforestation, hydroelectric dams, uncontrolled tourism growth, and river polution. “These mergansers are going to die out unless we do something to protect Brazil's rivers,” Kooij said.
The captivity breeding experience was part of the National Action Plan for Brazilian Merganser Conservancy, led by experts at the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), the Terra Brasilis Institute, the Tocantins Nature Institute (Naturatins), the Cerrado Vivo Association for Biodiversity Conservation (CerVivo), the University of São Paulo Zoology Museum (MZUSP) and the Piracema Conservation Reserve.
Font: Agência Brasil