Protecting the Pink Pigeon and the Echo Parakeet in Mauritius

As civilization began in Mauritius, deforestation started to take place to make way for buildings and roads. During this course, the natural environment that surrounded most parts of Mauritius quickly decreased causing many species of animals to lose their habitats. This caused an imbalance in the ecosystem of Mauritius.

As such, the Pink Pigeon could be found all over Mauritius long ago. Nowadays, the Pink Pigeon can only be seen in the South Western part of Mauritius. The loss of habitat as well as predatory rats and cats has caused the Pink Pigeon to become one of the rarest pigeons in the world. Early during the 1980’s, authorities in Mauritius became aware about the critical condition of Pink Pigeons. They started a captive breeding programme with an aim to restore the original quantity of Pink Pigeons in Mauritius. Today, after decades of hard work, more than 250 of these birds have been released in the wild.

It is important to point out the fact that when works started in the year 1985, only around 20 Pink Pigeons were present. Nowadays, seeing the quantity multiply almost by ten times, it demonstrates the will to restore the ecosystem of Mauritius back to its original state. However, the captive breeding and release of these birds in Mauritius will continue until their quantity exceeds 500. The families of Pink Pigeons are currently under intensive care and management so as to ensure their survival. Even after the maximum amount of birds is reached, a close look has to be given to their state and condition to allow them reproduce and live freely in the wild.

Following the loss in habitat, another bird in Mauritius, The Echo Parakeet became close to extinction. The Echo Parakeet can only be found in the highland forest of Macchabee Ridge in Mauritius. The breeding programme started in the year 1990 with only 20-25 birds in hand. The Echo Parakeet is the only endemic parrot in Mauritius and is as well the rarest parrot in the world. Nowadays, after intensive breeding and management, around 40 birds may be present in Mauritius and also around the world. The Echo Parakeet can only be found in Mauritius and nowhere around the world. Similar to the Pink Pigeon, the target has been set to breed around 500 Echo Parakeets in Mauritius before the threat of extinction can be ruled out.

Apart from the breeding of birds in Mauritius, other restoration tasks were started. During the year 1982, the World Wide Fund for Nature provided funds for the protection of plants in Mauritius. The project was also backed by the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. Following this, many other international organisations have helped Mauritius to develop and enhance the conservation of rare plants and animals. To cope with this development in Mauritius, local co-ordination was necessary. As a matter of fact, in the year 1984, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation was created as a non profit and independent organisation.

The MWF has till then worked hard to preserve the nature in Mauritius. A solid example is the restoration of Ile aux Aigrettes.