Psittacula eques echo
Introducing the world’s rarest parakeet – in 1986 less than a dozen birds existed in the wild, and only three were female. The echo is one of just nine surviving bird species that are found only on the tiny island of Mauritius, where they exist in alarmingly small populations. Without emergency help from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Wildlife Preservation Canada, this bird would have become as dead as the dodo, the famously extinct Mauritian bird.
The echo parakeet was until recently one of the most intensively managed avian species in the world. Techniques were refined and developed, and included protection of nest sites, providing nest sites, supplementary feeding of wild birds, and captive-breeding and releasing chicks to the wild. Thanks to these techniques, they now number over 500 in the wild – an increase of 4900%!
Between 1997 and 2005 a total of 139 birds were released into the wild at 3 different release sites. By 1999, the captive breeding program was no longer required, due to the significant increase in bird numbers in the wild. The population increases in recent years are the result of higher numbers of chicks surviving to fledging due to the management strategies used by the program and the consequent increase in the number of breeding age birds.
Approximately 7% of species that have been recovered globally through direct conservation intervention are from Mauritius, making it an ideal training ground to send our Canada’s New Noahs.
The techniques developed and refined on Mauritius to recover bird populations at risk of disappearing have been brought to the benefit of Canadian species, like the eastern loggerhead shrike and burrowing owl. The Mauritius program has also been a training ground for what is now 25 young Canadian conservation biologists, who have returned to Canada to build conservation capacity and create a network of skilled professionals who will drive conservation efforts in Canada and around the world for decades to come.