Introducing the world’s rarest parakeet - in 1986 less than a dozen birds existed in the wild, and only three were female. The echo is one of just nine surviving bird species that are found only on the tiny island of Mauritius, where they exist in alarmingly small populations. Without emergency help from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, this bird would have become as dead as the Dodo, the extinct Mauritian bird used to symbolise the efforts of the Trust.
Small islands such as Mauritius can suffer from a wide range of environmental problems. These include the introduction of plants and animals to the detriment of existing wildlife, degradation and destruction of the natural habitat so that native animals cannot live there, and the indiscriminate use of pesticides that poison the land and its inhabitants.
The Trust’s conservation efforts to help the endangered birds of Mauritius began in the mid-1970s. The Mauritius kestrel was the first focus of the rescue programme, then the pink pigeon and finally, since 1987, the echo parakeet. The populations of these species are still at very low levels, but have been brought back from the brink of extinction by a combination of managing wild birds and captive breeding for release. Members of all three species are kept at Durrell and highlight the success of the Trust's Mauritius campaign. Today about 130 echoes live in the wild, and the species’ chance of survival continues to improve, but we still have a long struggle ahead to get it off the critical list.