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The World's Critically Endangered Ducks

Classified by the IUCN Red List

Six species of ducks have been classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Two of them are concidered to be possibly extinct (Pink-headed duck and Crested shelduck). The other 4 species have very small remaining populations.

The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria are intended to be an easily and widely understood system for classifying species at high risk of global extinction. The general aim of the system is to provide an explicit, objective framework for the classification of the broadest range of species according to their extinction risk. 


The following duck species are classified Critically Endangered by the IUCN.

Click here for a complete list of threatened waterfowl species, subspecies and populations. 



Brazilian merganser (Mergus mergusoctosetaceus)

Only 50 - 250 individuals left

Recent records from Brazil indicate that this species's status may be marginally better than previously thought. Nevertheless, the remaining known population is still extremely small (only 50-250 individuals) and fragmented, and the perturbation, damming and pollution of rivers are likely to be causing continuing declines. For these reasons, it is listed as Critically Endangered (IUCN, 2013). Read more about this species here.



Above: adult Brazilian merganser

Photo by Jan Harteman, at Zooparque Itatiba, Brazil (captive breeding programme).



Madagascar pochard (Aythya innota)

Less than 50 individuals left in the wild

This species was rediscovered in 2006 following the last sighting in 1991. It is currently known from a single location where 29 mature individuals were seen in 2011. While it may also persist at other sites, the population is likely to be tiny and therefore it is classified as Critically Endangered (IUCN, 2011). A total of 25 adult birds were counted at the rediscovery site in 2008, with 29 there in 2011 (L.-A. Réne de Roland in litt. 2012). The species may persist elsewhere but the numbers are likely to be tiny, with fewer than 50 individuals. Read more about this species here.



Above:  adult male Madagascar pochard.

Photo by Andrew Routh, at Antsohihy breeding centre, Madagascar (March 2015)



Baer's pochard (Aythya baeri)

Only 150-700 indivuals left in the wild

The Baer's pochard is a diving duck found in eastern Asia. This species has been uplisted to Critically Endangered (IUCN, 2012) owing to an apparent acceleration in the rate of its decline, as measured by numbers on both the breeding and wintering grounds. Population most recently estimated by BirdLife International at just 150–700 mature individuals and considered to be still declining. Learn more about this species here.



Above: captive flock of adult Baer's pochards in breeding plumage.

Photo by Jan Harteman, at Harteman Wildfowl, 2019



Laysan duck (Anas laysanensis)

Only 500–680 individuals left in the wild

Many years the Laysan teal or Laysan duck survived on a small island (400 ha) in the middle of the huge Pacific Ocean. It is a miracle it is still not extinct. Moreover, this island contains a 200 ha lake with brakisch, so useless water. Thus for water they rely on some small fresh water ponds that dry out during hot summers. Population estimated at 500–680 mature individuals. Read more about this species here.



Above: Laysan duck. Photo by Jan Harteman, at private breeding facility (Netherlands, 2014).



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