Pink pigeon recovery program

The pink pigeon is endemic to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. It was formerly widely distributed across the island, but due to extensive habitat loss and the impact of introduced mammalian predators was reduced to around a dozen birds and restricted to a small forestry plantation in a remote part of south west Mauritius by the 1970s. Following an intensive recovery program, initiated in the 1980s, involving: in-situ and ex-situ captive breeding; multiple reintroductions; supplementary feeding; predator control and habitat restoration numbers have increased. Currently, the population is ~380 individuals split across nine sub-populations and the pigeon is now listed as Endangered.

Pink pigeon
An adult pink pigeon

One of the most successful management actions behind the recovery of the pigeon has been the creation and management of sub-populations via reintroduction into parts of their former range. This approach is ongoing, but not without its challenges, namely; deciding where to locate new populations, understand how these populations function as part of a meta-population structure and how to manage and monitor numerous pink pigeon populations in the long-term. All of these issues need to be addressed to secure the long-term future of this species.

Find out more: http://www.mauritian-wildlife.org/application/index.php?tpid=30&tcid=33

Why we are there

ZSL’s Institute of Zoology is closely involved in the pink pigeon project and, along with our conservation partners, provides the scientific evidence underpinning the species recovery programme. The recovery programme is implemented by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) and the National parks and Conservation Service (Government of Mauritius), with support from the Durrell Wildlife & Conservation Trust (DWCT) and Chester Zoo (CZ). 

2 pink pigeon chicks held in a hand
A brood of two wild-bred pink pigeon squabs

Over the last 10 years staff and students from IoZ have been examining the impact of conservation management actions on pink pigeon population recovery and how the associated monitoring program might be refined from both a logistical and financial perspective. In addition, a new study was initiated in 2017 to document pigeon movement ecology using GPS tracking technology. This project aims to identify movement patterns and corridors between sub-populations and how this might impact on the meta-population population dynamics. Tracking data will also be used to identify sites for the establishment of additional subpopulations and establish if movement corridors fall inside or outside of the current protected area network.

The scientific evidence from this research not only guides the pigeon recovery programme, but also provides a globally relevant insight into how a meta-population of a highly threatened species functions and may be managed in the long-term.

Impact

  • A viable meta-population of pink pigeons in the remnant forest habitat.
  • An understanding of pink pigeon population and movement ecology.
  • A program of minimal monitoring and management.
  • 1 PhD studentship. 

Project Information

Key Species

Pink pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri)

The Pink pigeon is a medium sized pigeon endemic to the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius and is currently classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. 

People involved

Dr Malcolm Nicoll 
Prof Ken Norris

Partners & Sponsors

Partners; Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, National parks and Conservation Service (Government of Mauritius), Durrell Wildlife & Conservation Trust (DWCT), Chester Zoo (CZ), University of Reading.

Sponsors: BBSRC, DWCT, CZ.