Do you need another reason to love the Indian Ocean? Here’s one: its endemic fauna keeps growing, thanks to 50 years of constant conservation endeavours. Indeed, a conservation programme has successfully curbed the population decline of the ultimate species of Echo Parakeet, which has recently been downranked from the status of endangered species to that of vulnerable species on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) list. Great news for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation!
More than a mascot
It’s a small step for the tiny green parrot, which was also the mascot of the Indian Ocean Games of 2019, but a great leap forward for the island’s natural heritage. Indeed, as compared to the 70’s, when catching a glimpse of an Echo Parakeet was a rare feat for tourists and other nature lovers (because there only remained under 20 of them in the Mauritian wildlife), we can now see a growing number of the little green bird.
The Echo Parakeet – which can now almost thrive alongside other species – has for a long time been threatened by deforestation and other predators. With the numbers of parrots decreasing, in order to help the species grow soundly, a captive breeding program was set up in 1975, before releasing them into the Mauritian wildlife. Such efforts have, later on, been strengthened by a more holistic protocol which includes better nests, the installation of man-made birdhouses, feeding of birds within their natural habitat, and the population control of predatory species, which, combined, account for the success of this operation. These programmes are spearheaded by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, with constant support from entities such as the National Parks and Conservation Service and the Mauritius Forestry. Great help also came from international organisations like the Chester Zoo (United Kingdom), or the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (Jersey, Channel islands), as well as the financial support of both international entities like the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme, and Mauritian firms like Ferney Co. Ltd, Ebony Forest, the Mauritius Commercial Bank, the IFS Foundation, and Terra Foundation.
The 20 Echo Parakeets which were only visible in the Black River Gorges in the 70’s are now but a dark memory, as over 800 of those green parrots now freely fly through various forests of the island, from the mountains of Bambou to the Ferney Valley, and the Ebony Forest of Chamarel. This fragile ecosystem, nevertheless, needs constant care to maintain its delicate balance, in order to allow the Echo Parakeet to properly thrive.