Feb 1

We’ve asked conservation organisations around the world to nominate a species that they believe to be overlooked, underappreciated and unloved, and tell us why they think that they deserve a fair share of the limelight, this Valentine’s Day.

Each nominee’s story is featured on the Arkive blog with information on the species, what makes them so special, the conservation organisation that nominated them and how they are working to save them from extinction.

Click the ‘unloved species’ tag above to see all of the nominations and their blogs.

Once you have perused the blogs you can vote for your favourite to help get them into the top ten unloved species and get them the recognition that they truly deserve! Share your favourite with others using the #LoveSpecies hashtag on Twitter and Facebook and tell them why they should vote for them too. Voting closes on February 14th at 23:59 PST (07:59 GMT).

Join us and our conservation partners in celebrating and raising awareness for some of the world’s most unloved species this Valentine’s Day!

Species: Baer’s poachard

Nominated by: Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT)

Conservation status: Critically Endangered

Why do you love it? WWT loves the Baer’s Pochard because it is a very understated and poorly-known diving duck that is in urgent need of help. Sporting a plumage of mostly shades of brown, it has declined massively within its East Asian range over the past 20 years or so and there is likely to be fewer than 500 birds remaining. It might also be the canary in the coalmine for other East Asian ducks – most of these remain relatively numerous but a lack of good counting schemes means it is hard to know whether they are declining or not. More love for Baer’s Pochard also means more love for the many other migratory ducks that share its flyway.

What are the threats to Baer’s pochard? The major threat is likely to be the extensive loss of its wetland habitat in both breeding and wintering areas, but particularly parts of the breeding range in northeast China. This region has seen a huge loss of wetland habitat in recent decades, primarily for rice production. Many of the few remaining wintering sites are also under threat, particularly from the development of housing and industry, as well as recreation. In addition, there are significant levels of waterbird hunting and egg harvesting ongoing in much of its range, and whilst we do not yet know the true scale of this it is likely that intense effort at particular wetlands that still support the species could have a significant impact on the remnant population that is now concentrated at a small number of suitable sites.

What are you doing to save it? WWT has led the process to develop an action plan for the species under the auspices of the East Asian – Australasian Flyway Partnership and is now overseeing its implementation through the EAAFP Baer’s Pochard Task Force, though this is only just getting started and there is much to do. We need to identify all the sites that still support Baer’s Pochard and ensure they are properly protected and managed.

Surveys have been undertaken in parts of its range, and this winter key sites in Myanmar will be surveyed in the near future. The most significant gap in our knowledge is about where they are breeding – the latest counts have located about three times as many birds in winter as compared to the breeding season. We also urgently need to know more about the impact of hunting and egg harvesting and ensure any ongoing activity is halted.

Find out more about WWT’s conservation work

Discover the top 50 bird species on Arkive