Mauritian endangered bird finds new homeApr 15, 2016
In 1995, only 9 echo parakeets, a type of parrot found in Mauritius, were left in the world, and considered critically endangered.
Today, the species is on the way to recovery. 29 birds have now been released into the wild at la Vallée de Ferney nature reserve on the east coast of the island nation, as part of the country’s efforts to ensure the sustainable management and restoration of its native flora and fauna.
The release of the Echo Parakeets was marked today, as part of an initiative to transform La Vallée de Ferney into a healthy and suitable habitat for the birds, as well as a broader biodiversity conservation and awareness hub.
“This event is a major and encouraging step in our aim to preserve and enhance the Mauritian biodiversity,” said Arnaud Dalais, Chairman of the Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust and CIEL Limited, a private sector company. “We have an ongoing commitment to support the environment and particularly la Vallée de Ferney, the sanctuary of the Mauritian biodiversity. Today is not only the official release of birds, but also the celebration of men and women who believe in sustainable development and fully commit themselves to environmental causes.”
Other areas of focus for the National Parks and Conservation Service (NPCS) include retaining the country’s genetic biodiversity for future generations by improving the quality of 9 hectares of forest; providing the habitat for and reintroducing endemic bird species such as the echo parakeet, pink pigeon, Mauritius cuckoo-shrike and Mauritius paradise fly-catcher; and managing the existing Mauritius kestrel population.
Currently, 700 echo parakeets are registered on the island compared to less than 20 echo parakeets in the 1970s and 1980s, helping to take them off the critically endangered list.
The restoration of the echo parakeet project has been supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and a public-private partnership between the Government of Mauritius, CIEL Limited and the NPCS. Implementing partners include the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation in partnership with the Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust.
At the release event UNDP Resident Representative Simon Springett spoke of new rare plants discovered in the wild during project implementation, some of which are critically endangered. “UNDP is proud to be associated with their discovery, propagation, and conservation.”
“The range of people who have been closely involved in this project varies from laborers, to conservationists, eco-guides, students and scholars,” said Pamela Bapoo-Dundoo, National Coordinator, GEF Small Grants Programme. “It has provided the opportunity for them to acquire new skills and techniques with regard to conservation management areas and to captive breeding of birds. It has also provided several green jobs.”
Deborah de Chazal, Executive Director, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, expressed her satisfaction “that the conservation project at La Vallée de Ferney is growing from strength to strength. This can only be due to the close collaboration between the owners of the site, funders of the project and the conservation partners including the National Parks and Conservation Service. It is great to see that La Vallée de Ferney is becoming a biodiversity hotspot of threatened Mauritian plants and animals and above all is open for visitors to enjoy.”
The total cost of the Ferney conservation project is USD 541,000 over four years. Financial support is provided by the GEF Small Grants Programme-UNDP under its strategic project funding window, CIEL group, and other partners such as Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT), North of England Zoological Society (Chester Zoo) and HSBC. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation is the grantee of this project and undertakes or oversees the conservation activities, which range from endemic bird reintroduction and management, plant conservation and habitat restoration and conservation education.
In Port Louis: Pamela Bapoo-Dundoo, National Coordinator, email@example.com