This species is listed as Endangered because it has a very small population, in one subpopulation, that is undergoing a rapid and continuing decline owing to habitat loss and hunting.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
Distribution and populationAnas bernieri
40-45 cm. Small dabbling duck. Rather pale, warm greyish-brown all over, scalloped darker most conspicuously on flanks and breast, wing with black speculum. Head rather uniform, pale, pinkish-grey bill, slightly upturned. Similar spp. Told from all other ducks by lack of conspicuous head-pattern, bill colour, rather long neck, wide white borders to distinctive black speculum, and habit of feeding by wading in shallow muddy water. Hints Usually in pairs or small groups, feeding in mangroves, on lake edges or estuarine mudflats.
is endemic to western Madagascar
. Its range encompasses a narrow coastal strip along the whole of the west coast and the extreme north-east (Langrand 1995; F. Razafindrajao per
R. Safford in litt
. 1999; ZICOMA 1999; H.G. Young in litt.
2007). It is known to breed at many sites in Menabe and Melaky on the central west coast, and at Ankazomborona on the far north-west coast (Razafindrajao et al.
2001): 100-500 were estimated to be present between Antsalova and Morondava in July-August 1993 (Morris and Hawkins 1998)
and a flock of 67 was seen near Tambohorano
in 1998 (Anon. 1998c); and a new breeding population of 200-300 individuals was discovered at Ankazomborona, north of Mahajanga and some 720 km north of the Masoarivo breeding site. The population in Baie de la Mahajamba was estimated to be 150-200 birds in November-December 2003 (Joiner et al.
2006). The total population is estimated at 1,500-2,500 individuals (G. Young in litt.
2002 to Wetlands International 2002). Population justification
The total population is estimated at 1,500-2,500 individuals (H.G. Young in litt.
2002), roughly equivalent to 1,000-1,700 mature individuals.Trend justification
This species's population is suspected to be decreasing rapidly, in line with extensive habitat loss and disturbance throughout its breeding range, exacerbated by hunting at both breeding and moulting sites.EcologyBehaviour
Birds breed during the wet season months of December to March (Joiner et al.
2006; Kear 2005b), and moult at the beginning of the dry season when they become flightless for a period (Young 2006; Razafindrajao 2000). They then move short distances to coastal areas in search of suitable habitat for the dry season (Kear 2005b). During the breeding season the species occurs in solitary, dispersed pairs, but during the non-breeding season it is more gregarious and occurs in groups of up to 40 individuals (Scott and Rose 1996). Pair-bonds may last through consecutive seasons and investment by males is high and involves the protection of the female and young (Young 2006). Habitat Breeding
The species breeds only in seasonally flooded, non-tidal areas dominated by Black Mangrove Avicennia marina
, on the landward side of littoral forest (Joiner et al.
2006; Young 2006; H.G. Young in litt.
2007; Razafindrajao 2000). Non-breeding
During its post-breeding moult, during which time it is flightless (Young 2006), the species seeks out lakes that are rich in aquatic vegetation, and in the subsequent dry season it is found in coastal wetland areas of shallow water and nutrient-rich mud, including saline and brackish areas (Kear 2005b; Razafindrajao 2000). Here it prefers open rather than vegetated wetlands (Young 2006) and is most often found in coastal mangrove forest, bays, estuaries and shallow saline wetlands just inland of mangroves (tannes), though it can also be found less frequently in marshes, dense deciduous forest, areas of open water and herbaceous savannah, especially where Hyparrhenia
grasses are present (Joiner et al.
Little is know about its diet except during moulting when it feeds on terrestrial and aquatic insects including Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, and Diptera, in addition to the seeds of various plant families and the leaves and stems of monocotyledons (Kear 2005b). It usually feeds by dabbling in the mud while wading (Morris and Hawkins 1998; Young 1995). Breeding Site
Nesting takes place in holes in Avicennia marina
mangrove trees (Joiner et al.
2006; Kear 2005b) that have been created by storm damage or decay (Joiner et al.
2006). Ducklings fledge at 45-49 days (Young 2006). Threats
The species is now extremely threatened throughout its breeding range, by extensive habitat loss and disturbance. The distribution of known sites suggests that the single subpopulation is being fragmented as areas of habitat become unsuitable (Young 2006; H.G. Young in litt.
2007). The species has limited dispersal capabilities and isolation may result in the loss of genetic diversity (Young 2006). Furthermore it is threatened by virtue of being highly specific to a series of habitats - which are themselves threatened - throughout its annual cycle (Razafindrajao 2000). Conversion of shallow, muddy water-bodies to rice cultivation (Young et al
. 1993) has been so widespread on the west coast that in the non-breeding season the species now appears to be confined to the few suitable wetlands that are too saline for rice-growing, i.e. some inland lakes and coastal areas such as mudflats (Green et al
. 1994). In 2004, during a dry-season survey in Menabe, this species was only found in saline wetlands (H.G. Young in litt.
2007). Pressures on coastal wetlands are exacerbated by the movement of people from the High Plateau to coastal regions, which is driven by the over-exhaustion of land (Joiner et al.
2006). Mangroves are under increasing pressure from prawn-pond construction and timber extraction, which also leads to massively increased hunting (Morris and Hawkins 1998). Subsistence hunting during the nesting season and the trapping of moulting birds are major threats (Young 2006). It is considered a delicacy by hunters and was found in markets in Sofia in 2011 (H. G. Young in litt.
2012). In contrast, the breeding site at Ankazomborona is not threatened by aquaculture and there is little pressure from subsistence hunters, though there is some pressure from sport hunters (Razafindrajao et al.
2001). Breeding birds may suffer disturbance from human activity, such as the collection of crabs (Joiner et al.
2006). The species is potentially in competition for the use of suitable nest-holes with the Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos
, parrots Coracopsis
species and nocturnal lemurs, Lepilemur
species and Cheirogaleus
species, though lemurs are absent in mangroves (Joiner et al.
2006). Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. It has been recorded from Baly Bay National Park, Tsimanampetsotsa Strict Reserve (ZICOMA 1999), Analabe Private Reserve, Kirindy Mitea National Park and Lac Bedo Ramsar Site (H.G. Young in litt.
2007). A captive-breeding programme started in 1993 (Morris and Hawkins 1998; Young 1998), and these birds are used to study breeding behaviour (Young 2006). Studies on the ecology of the wild birds (including provision of nest boxes; R. Lewis pers comm.
2001) and a conservation programme at Lac Antsamaka (in Manambolomaty Ramsar Site) have also been initiated. Flightless birds moulting wing feathers were caught and ringed annually in May and June at Antsamaky (Young 2006), but birds are no longer congregating there (H. G. Young in litt.
2012). Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey the distribution and abundance of the species through standardised national surveys and/or the sharing of data between organisations, and search for new breeding sites on the west coast, e.g. north of Mahajanga (Thorstrom and Rabarisoa 1997; M. Rabenandrasana in litt.
2007). Study its ecological needs and complete further ecological studies at Ankazomborona (Thorstrom and Rabarisoa 1997). Develop captive breeding programmes and conduct research into the species's reproductive ecology; Ankazomborona may be a particularly suitable study site (Joiner et al.
2006). Ensure adequate protection of nesting, moulting and dry-season sites (Young 2006). Monitor movements using satellite telemetry (H. G. Young in litt.
Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.
Collar, N. J.; Stuart, S. N. 1985. Threatened birds of Africa and related islands: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, and International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Cambridge, U.K.
Green, A. J.; Young, H. G.; Rabarisoa, R. G. M.; Ravonjiarisoa, P.; Andrianarimisa, A. 1994. The dry season diurnal behaviour of the Madagascar Teal Anas bernieri at Lake Bemamba. Wildfowl 45: 124-132.
Joiner, O.; Razafindrajao, F.; Young, H. G. 2006. A survey of Madagascar Teal and other waterbirds in north-west Madagascar, November-December 2003. TWSG News: 46-54.
Kear, J. 2005. Ducks, geese and swans volume 2: species accounts (Cairina to Mergus). Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.
Langrand, O. 1995. Recensement des oiseaux d'eau Ã Madagascar et observation de la Sarcelle de Bernier Anas bernieri. Madagascar Region Newsletter 5: 13-14.
Morris, P.; Hawkins, F. 1998. Birds of Madagascar: a photographic guide. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.
Razafindrajao, F. 2000. Study of the Madagascar Teal Anas bernieri and other Anatidae of the western wetlands of Madagascar. Dodo: Journal of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust 36: 90.
Razafindrajao, F.; Lewis, R.; Nichols, R.; Woolaver, L. 2001. Discovery of a new breeding population of Madagascar Teal Anas bernieri in north-west Madagascar. Dodo: Journal of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust 37: 60-69.
Scott, D. A.; Rose, P. M. 1996. Atlas of Anatidae populations in Africa and western Eurasia. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Thorstrom, R.; Rabarisoa, R. G. M. 1997. An observation of Madagascar Teal Anas bernieri in northwestern Madagascar. Wildfowl 47: 212-213.
Wetlands International. 2002. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Young, G. 1998. Captive breeding of Madagascar Teal Anas bernieri. Newsletter of the Working Group on Birds in the Madagascar Region 8(1): 21-22.
Young, H. G. 1995. The Madagascar Teal, a most enigmatic duck. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 2(2): 98-100.
Young, H. G. 2006. Madagascar Teal Anas bernieri: the ecology and conservation of a short distance migrant. In: Boere, G. C.; Galbraith, C. A.; Stroud, D. A. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 252-254. The Stationery Office, Edinburgh, U.K.
Young, H. G.; Safford, R.; Green, A.; Ravonjirisoa, P.; Rabarisoa, R. G. M. 1993. Survey and capture of the Madagascar Teal Anas bernieri at Lac Bemamba, Madagascar, July-August 1992, July 1993. Dodo: Journal of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust 29: 77-94.
ZICOMA. 1999. Zones d'Importance pour la Conservation des Oiseaux a Madagascar.
Further web sources of information
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Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J.
Lewis, R., Rabenandrasana, M., Razafindrajao, F., Safford, R., Young, G.
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Anas bernieri. Downloaded from
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Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
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This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000)
Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004)
Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
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