About four years ago I first wrote about the Pink-headed Duck, a charming species related to the pochards (although how, exactly, is up for grabs, like so much duck taxonomy.) Maybe they’re extinct. Maybe they’re not. Presumably, only the swamps and reedy rivers of Myanmar hold the answer.
Now Global Wildlife Conservation is out to get some fresh evidence and hopefully re-discover the species, which was officially last seen in the 1949. They’ll survey local residents – who have other things to do with their days than upload sightings to eBird, and thus may prove an untapped well of knowledge – explore beyond the military checkpoints that hamper most travel in northern Myanmar, and even use elephants to explore in hopes of flushing the birds from cover rather than driving them deeper into it.
Co-sponsored by Bushnell and Charles Martell & Sons, this fascinating expedition is the first in a proposed series meant to track down species on the critically endangered/extinct border in the hopes that they, and their remaining habitats, can be protected. Members of the expedition – which include Richard Thorns, Errol Fuller, Pilar Bueno, and John Hodges – will update the world through a blog over the coming months. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this, and I wish them all the best of luck.
Image: Pink-headed duck art decoy by Philip Nelson, courtesy of Global Wildlife Conservation.