Along the meandering rivers of China’s far northeastern region, a distinctive migratory duck, the Chinese merganser struggles to survive.
After 10 million years, the tree dweller is teetering on the brink of extinction. Only about 2,000 remain, experts estimate. Human depredations have taken their toll — pollution and logging, for example. When the trees go, the birds lose their homes. They find fewer places to nest and hatch their young.
The merganser’s connection to China is nearly as strong as that of the panda, a national treasure that only human intervention saved from extinction. The ducks need help, too, and are benefiting from efforts in Jilin province. It could be their last chance.