The Mauritius parakeet, confined to the Black River Gorges National Park in the south west of Mauritius, was once the world’s rarest parrot. The species experienced a severe population bottleneck after declining to fewer than 20 individuals in the early 1980s due to introduced predators and habitat loss. Intensive conservation management has been conducted on the population since the mid-1970s in an attempt to rapidly increase population numbers, intensifying in 1987 through the collaborative efforts of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, the National Parks and Conservation Service, Durrell (Jersey, UK) and a number of other external organisations. Intensive management included brood manipulation, supplementary feeding, provision of artificial nest sites, captive-breeding, reintroduction, and control of invasive alien predators. This management successfully resulted in a steady population increase to approximately 600 individuals and 102 known breeding pairs by the 2013/14 breeding season. However, these efforts were interrupted by a severe outbreak of Psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) in 2005.
Following this outbreak, PBFD was considered a severe threat to the parakeet’s recovery, prompting the immediate cessation of some elements of the recovery such as the transfer of individuals and eggs between nest sites. However the provision of artificial nest boxes, control of alien predators, the use of supplemental feeding hoppers and a minimal regime of visits to nest sites for monitoring purposes has remained in place.
Currently our work with Mauritius parakeets is primarily through Debbie Fogell’s PHD. Debbie’s focus is on two management activities that are considered high risk for continued spread of PBFD: the provision of supplementary food in fixed feeding hoppers and visits by field staff to access nesting sites for ringing and nest box maintenance. Working closely with Nicolas Zuël (Fauna Manager) and Sion Henshaw (Mauritian parakeet project coordinator), Debbie is using a mix of molecular diagnostics and field experiments to understand how PBFD is spread and how we might be able to reduce this through our management activities.
For more information on our involvement please check out Debbie’s page on this website, the collection of relevant news posts below, or contact us for more information.