Mr David McNeil opened his remarks commenting that the decision by the Wildlife Service to capture and supply Ducks Unlimited with 10 pairs of birds was received with great enthusiasm as DU had long considered that the development of expertise with this species (before numbers in the wild are affected by habitat reduction and other causes to a dangerously low level)was a logical move.
Mr McNeil outlined background to the project and gave details of experience achieved in adapting the birds to new diet and conditions during acclimatisation. Praise was given to Mr and Mrs I.H. Pirani and Mr M. Powell for their efforts in rearing the birds under aviary conditions — he said it would be difficult to imagine a greater change from conditions in the wild but commented that those involved with rearing had been astonished at the birds' natural quietness and lack of concern when approached closely — perhaps a fatal flaw in their nature. Pair bonding was discussed and experiences with natural pairing shared with the audience.
Overall it was felt that a great deal of progress had been made and Mr McNeil said he hoped the Wildlife Service could catch the balance of their agreed total as a permanent nucleus of captured birds was essential to the survival of the species. The Wildlife Service was being kept fully informed of Ducks Unlimited‘s progress. The only disturbing factor had been the recent reports of poaching of Blue Duck and other wildlife species for overseas markets, and Mr McNeil said Ducks Unlimited would assist with publicity and conservation of this unique species. A member requested that a remit be presented by Ducks Unlimited to the Minister of the Environment inquiring if anything had been done concerning alleged poaching recently reported in the press.
The President reported that he understood a special task force had been set up by the wildlife Service to investigate the matter of poaching Blue Duck and other species and undertook that a letter would be written to the Minister expressing the organisation's concern and seeking clarification of the position.