The Echo Parakeet Psittacula eques is the last endemic parrot of Mauritus and the Mascarenes, and was close to extinction as the wild population numbers were estimated at around 20 birds in the mid-1970s. The Echo Parakeet is closely associated with good quality native forest, and the decline of the bird has been due to habitat decline and degradation, which cause shortage of food and tree cavities for nesting. Predators and diseases severely impact on the survival of Echo Parakeets. The population is currently over 600 birds, thanks to a conservation programme that has included rescue of eggs and chicks in the wild, captive breeding and rearing, releases into the wild, pest and disease control, supplementary feeding, nest site provision and habitat restoration. The Echo Parakeet is arguably the most successful parrot restoration programme, and is a model for the rescue of other parrots worldwide. The immediate challenge is overcoming Psittacene Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD), a deadly viral disease, whilst long term, it is large scale habitat restoration that will provide for natural food and nest sites.
Despite the disease, the population is still growing which would indicate that the current minimum management is adequate. However the total population is found in the Black River Gorges National Park and in order to further secure the Echo Parakeet from a localised event which could severely impact on the population, a suitable area with good quality native forest has been identified in the Bambous Mountains. The translocation started in February 2015 with five birds established in the Ferney Valley. In 2016 we will continue, taking birds from the population in the Black River Gorges National Park. Monitoring will locate suitable birds and supplementary feeding will continue to support general bird fitness and breeding success. Our university partners are undertaking a number of studies which look at PBFD, supplementary feeding, genetics and population dynamics all of which will inform conservation actions in the future.
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