Psittaculture Conservation

Mauritius (Echo) Parakeet
(Psittacula eques echo)


CITES: Appendix I

IUCN Red List: Critically Endangered (CR-D)

Once one of the world's most endangered birds, with a population reduced to about 12 birds in 1990 and 15-20 birds in 1991, of which only 3 were female. An intensive conservation program has involved breeding wild caught birds in captivity, plus pulling selected wild eggs from nests (pairs then lay again). The program has also involved habitat regeneration and research into field techniques to improve the breeding successes of wild birds. Season 2004-2005 has produced over 70 fledged birds, increasing the population to just under 300.

The single most critical factor for the decline of the Echo Parakeet is habitat loss. Nest predation by monkeys and rats, competition for nest sites from introduced species such as the Indian mynah and the rose-ringed parakeet, and seasonal food shortages are also thought to be factors (attributed to the gradual degradation of native forest and to competition for and destruction of fruit by black rats and monkeys). At present end-of-winter food shortages is a major limiting factor in about one in four years.

(Christopher Kaiser)


Distrubution of Psittacula echo on the island of Mauritius


(Christopher Kaiser)


Black River Gorges National Park Echo Parakeets primarily inhabit native upland forest and scrublands in the mountainous region of the Black River Gorges in south western Mauritius. They roost in sheltered areas, and spend most time in dense, mature stands of trees. Remaining birds center their activities on the Macabe ridge and favour some of the largest native trees left on Mauritius. Nests are located at least 32 feet up in rain-sheltered tree holes. In 1974, remaining native forest habitat received almost complete protection when the Macabe-Bel Ombre Nature Reserve was created by linking a number of smaller reserves.



Andy Bowkett health checking a baby echo parakeet (Jason Van De Wetering)


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Glossy Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami)

Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus)

Red-fronted Macaw (Ara rubrogenys)


Featured in the Australian Birdkeeper Magazine (June-July 2005)



Captive breeding attempts were begun in the 1970's, without success. From the 1970's to mid 1980, the 10 or so wild birds appeared to suffer almost complete breeding failure. The first two captive bred birds were born in 1993.

In the 1999/2000 wild season, 19 captive bred birds were released, followed by 17 in 2000/2001 (wild numbers 120-130). January 2003 saw the first parent-rearing of captive birds, after partitioning the nest boxes so parents could not pluck chicks once they had started to grow feathers, but could still reach chicks to feed them.

In January 2003, the wild population was estimated at 120-130, with the aim of the conservation program to establish 300 birds in the wild by 2010.

With the help of 4 new Brinsea Hatchmakers donated by Priam Psittaculture, season 2004-2005 has produced over 70 fledged birds, increasing the population to just under 300.






Mauritian Wildlife Foundation

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Fund

Wildlife Preservation Trust of Canada

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)