The pink pigeon, the largest of all the pigeons and doves
found on Mauritius is another highly endangered species.
Impediments to progress include poor nesting results due
to predation from monkeys and rats.
Without help from the
Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust (JWPT) it would soon
have been totally extinct. The JWPT was established in 1963
by the eminent zoologist and author Gerald Durrell.
It is devoted to the concept of captive breeding of endangered
species as an aid to their survival in the wild. In 1984
Gerald Durrell released the first 11 of 150 captive bred
Pink Pigeons into the Pamplemousse
Botanical Gardens in Mauritius as the first step of
a major re-introduction programme to save the species.
The success to date of the recovery project for the Mauritius
pink pigeon is a good example of how intensive management
techniques can bring a species back from the brink of extinction.
here were about 15 Pink Pigeons in the wild in the early
1990s, at present (2002) there are just under 350, and about
a year ago there were over 400.
We had several theories about the decline. It is very localised
to only one of the five populations of Pink Pigeons at "Pigeon
Wood", also known as "Plaine Pol". This is the only truly
wild population, where no releases have been done, and yet
the population has risen from nine birds in the early nineties
to just under 100 in roughly June 2000. There are still
measures such as supplementary feeding that are implemented.
Since then, the population has plumeted to about 20 birds.
This is probably due to one or more wild cats, a single
one of which has been documented to kill off up to 45~50
Pigeons within a couple of months. There is also growing
evidence that there is some kind of a disease problem in
the population. The disease has not been identified yet,
but could be Leucozytozoon, a blood parasite. There is one
other possibility, for which there was very sketchy evidence.
It is possible that there was some kind of human intervention,
where shady characters who used the forest for shady reasons,
may have poached Pigeons. (1)
(1) Information given by John Tayleur who
coordinated the Pink Pigeon project