The power of pink: rosy season for once near-extinct pigeon

27 February 2024

Harri's Trip To Mauritius Baby Pink Pigeon2


Durrell’s Curator of Birds at Jersey Zoo, Harriet Whitford, recently travelled to Mauritius to visit the Gerald Durrell Endemic Wildlife Sanctuary, where she helped to prepare specialist aviaries for the upcoming breeding season. Harri’s visit is part of Mauritian and international efforts to restore the pink pigeon, once considered one of the rarest birds in the world.

Harri worked closely with the sanctuary supervisor, Amanda Maujean from the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF), as well as the National Parks and Conservation Service, to standardise and improve important aspects of the birds’ care. This includes passing on knowledge and skills learnt from caring for pink pigeons at Jersey Zoo. 

Harri and the team adapted and elevated the aviaries into pink pigeon sanctuaries for optimal breeding. Six pink pigeon chicks have successfully hatched, with Jersey males fathering three of them. This was the most successful season to date!

The pink pigeon almost went extinct in the 1970s, with only ten individuals thought to remain in the wild. Conservation efforts focused on restoring the species, but in the 1990s its population declined rapidly due to deforestation and the introduction of invasive predators. 

The pink pigeon was then brought back from the brink of extinction and, now classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, is celebrated as a true conservation success story. 
Although the wild population of pink pigeons is currently stable, the species still faces the same threats of invasive predators and a deteriorated habitat. Monitoring genetic diversity is an important part of conserving this species, as a greater genetic variability helps to maintain the health of the population. 

The pink pigeon recovery programme is the result of Durrell, MWF, the National Parks and Conservation Service (Government of Mauritius), Mauritius Commercial Bank and other partners coming together to save this unique and vulnerable species. 

Pink pigeon conservation is an important part of Durrell’s history, with Gerald Durrell setting up the first captive breeding programme for the species. Durrell’s dedicated zookeepers and conservationists, like Harri, continue to study and breed the birds at Jersey Zoo and in Mauritius. With field teams and partners committed to saving this bird, the pink pigeon faces a much rosier future. 

Harri’s trip was kindly supported by Air Mauritius. 

Harri's Trip To Mauritius Baby Pink Pigeon1