Saved from the Brink
18 Dec 2007
In one of the world’s most successful recovery programmes, lasting two decades, the Mauritius Echo Parakeet has been brought back from the brink of complete extinction.
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In the 1980s there were only about 10 Mauritius Echo Parakeets left alive, of which only three were female. In one of the world’s most successful recovery programmes, lasting two decades, the bird has been brought back from the brink of complete extinction.
Echo Parakeets had been happily evolving for millions of years on the once-uninhabited Indian Ocean island best known for the demise of the famously-doomed Dodo. When humans first arrived in the 17th century, they caused the irreversible loss of native plants and animals by interfering with the fragile equilibrium of the forests. They also brought with them predators that had not existed on the island before such as dogs, pigs, rats and monkeys ñ all have played a significant part in system-atically destroying the habitat.
Conservation efforts to recover the Echo Parakeet were initiated by the Forestry Service and the Council for Bird Preservation in the early 70s and more recently continued by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and the National Parks and Conservation Service. Careful breeding, rat control, supplementary feeding and the protection of nests have since boosted numbers in the wild to more than 320, downgrading the species from critically endangered to just’ endangered.
Plastic cling film wrapped around tree trunks and artificial nests deter even the hungriest of climbing rats and deeper-made nesting holes help guard against the long arm of the lawless monkey. ‘Basically, every facet of the recovery pro-gramme has been used to save the species,’ says Ryan Watson, Co-ordinator of Incubation and Hand-rearing. ‘Every chick and every egg is considered valuable and everything is done to save it, so if it requires artificial incubation or hand rearing, than that is what’s done.’ Although deforestation, predators and competition from other birds are likely to remain key threats, the Foundation remains determined to succeed and is motivated by the loss of other local breeds.
The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation is a registered charity and depends upon the kind donations of those who care. If you would like to contribute towards its projects in the long term survival of their unique heritage contact:
the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation,Grannum Road, Vacoas, Mauritius.
Tel: +230 697 6097
Photo: Mauritius Echo Parakeet
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