Mauritius Parrots & Pigeons Project
We've played a key role in helping recover a number of species in Mauritius from the brink of extinction.
Once widespread, at the end of the 1980s the echo parakeet was on the brink of extinction with only 8-20 individuals remaining. In response Black River Gorges National Park was established in 1993 as a conservation management area and an intensive management recovery programme for the parakeet was launched in 1997.
The programme included supplementary feeding, provision of artificial nests, plus egg harvesting and chick fostering to boost population growth; Chester Zoo bird keepers provided rearing skills for this phase. The results have led to a remarkable recovery, with an estimated current wild population of around 650 birds.
There are currently two sub-populations of echo parakeet in Black River Gorges National Park. Research and monitoring continues, with a focus on disease monitoring; management also continues but is less intensive. The project is also establishing new populations in the South East Bambous Mountain range, and this began with translocations in 2015.
The pink pigeon is another species recovery success story. Down to 10 individuals in 1990, there are now around 400 pigeons in the wild. Informed by continuous research and monitoring, effective management conditions for species recovery have been developed over several years.
Research has included phenology studies to guide supplementary feeding, plant restoration activities and mapping of the full pink pigeon genome. This mapping has shown the genetic importance of the birds at Chester and other European zoo's, and the need for these birds to be managed alongside those in Mauritius.
Today there are 7 sub populations of pink pigeon in the wild and the European zoo population, and future activities will aim to develop further sub-populations and continue to increase numbers in the wild.
Pink pigeon image (c) Lianne Concannon