Conservation Of Mauritius’ Echo Parakeet – A Species Saved From Extinction

While I was in Mauritius, I was very fortunate to have been invited to visit the Echo Parakeet monitoring station in Black River Gorges National Park.  This came about when I met the program’s chief scientist Prof. Carl Jones at Loro Parque’s World Parrot Conference in Sept 2014.  Just one more good reason to attend these conferences!  I had mentioned to him that I am a travel blogger with a specialty in eco-tourism and birding and would like to see the Echo Parakeets.  He gave me his card and after some emails, he told me he had gotten permission for my husband and I to visit.

We met him at the Petrin entrance and he took us around 5 km inside the park to the gated facility where the Echo Parakeets and Pink Pigeons are given nutritional supplements and studied.  You can read the story of how Prof. Jones saved the species from extinction and brought the population of Echo Parakeets from a scant 10 to roughly 350 birds and learn more about the project here and here.

We entered the park with Prof. Jones and drove to the project grounds.

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Once there, Prof. Jones and a visiting veterinarian went for a consultation leaving us to enjoy the up close and personal views of the birds.  There are several of these feeders scattered around the grounds for the parakeets.  They have to use their beaks to lift a lid and scoop out a pellet.

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Pink Pigeons also frequent the facility and have their own food.

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This type of feeder is meant for the pigeons but the naughty parakeets come and steal their food.

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This is a close up of the pellet they are eating.  This is only a supplement to their natural food.

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This is a different feeder but basically the same principle.


I just happen to be posting this on Valentine’s Day but this is valid any time and they always need more funds.  If you would like to help Prof. Jones and his team conserve the Echo Parakeet and Pink Pigeon, they have a donation button on their website.  You can also symbolically adopt one of 5 Mauritian animals.  The Echo Parakeet isn’t one of the 5 but the Pink Pigeon is and they inhabit the same area so help one and help them all!

Echo Parakeet (Psittacula eques)

The Echo Parakeet (Psittacula eques), also known as Mauritius parakeet, is the only extant parrot endemic to the Mascarene Islands in the southern Indian Ocean. Its local name is katover

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In the early 1980s, this parakeet was almost extinct. The roughly 10 birds that were left had hardly ever bred successfully since the early 1970s due to lack of suitable trees, nest predation,  disturbance by humans and feral pigs and deer, and competition with more plentiful bird species including the introduced rose-ringed parakeet. The Mauritius parakeet seemed doomed to extinction.

But with the team of Carl Jones (of Mauritius kestrel and Last Chance to See fame) taking over, a dedicated research and conservation effort was launched to save the birds. By the late 1980s, the situation had stabilized – though at a precariously low level – and more young birds were being hatched. By the mid-1990s, some 50–60 individuals were known altogether (including young birds) and an intensive management of the wild population by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation could begin. These efforts paid off handsomely; by January 2000, the population had exceeded 100 birds total.  Since then, the rapid recovery has continued. The total wild population is presently some 280-300 individuals of which some 200 are adult, half of which being breeding pairs and most of the other half single males.

Echo Parakeets can only be found in Black River Gorges National Park in Mauritius.  The best place to see them is about a 5 km walk down a fairly easy trail from the eastern entrance gate.



World Parrot Trust


Mauritian Wildlife Foundation

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust



Black River Gorges National Park, Mauritius

Black River Gorges National Park is one of the highlights of Mauritius even for “normal” tourists.  So much the better for the dedicated birder who has a chance to see 3 endemic rare birds here – the Mauritian Fody, the Pink Pigeon and the Echo Parakeet.

The park is easily accessible from the main tourist enclave of Flic en Flac, for other beaches further north, simply approach via the coast.  I strongly suggest hiring a car because buses would be few and far between on this route away from the main towns.

Mauritius SightsIt covers an area of 67.54 km² including humid upland forest, drier lowland forest and marshy heathland.

The National Park provides two information centres for visitors. One can be found in Petrin (Entrance A) and one in Black River (Entrance B). There are picnic areas at both entrances.  There is no fee to enter the park.

Opening hours:
Petrin Information Centre: Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 3:15 pm and Saturday 8:00 am to 11:00 am (phone: +230 258 0058 or 507 0128)
Black River Gorges Visitor Centre: Daily 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (phone: +230 258 0057)


Look for this sign as you are driving south.


Entrance gate – only official park vehicles may enter.  Other visitors may only walk on the trails.

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Park visitors centre was closed as we were there on a Sunday.


Not sure what these birds are other than the red Madagascar Fody, but they hang around the picnic area hoping to steal food.


IMG_4651 IMG_4649 IMG_4647 IMG_4646BRGNPBear in mind that the map above is actually upside down.  The area where the Echo Parakeets and Pink Pigeons can be found is about a 5km walk down the trail past the gate.  When you see these two signposts, stop and start looking and listening for the birds.

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Beyond this fence there is a monitoring/feeding station for the birds.  Only staff and invited guests (I was lucky enough to be invited) may enter in the company of a staff member.  Normal tourists are not allowed.


However the birds are not limited by fences and with patience, good eyes and ears you may soon be seeing sightings like these!

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