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Pink pigeon

Project overview

What? Pink pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri)

Why? In the 1970s, there were just a few dozen pink pigeons left in Mauritius, but due to zoo-led conservation, the species has been pulled back from the very brink of extinction

How? Providing guidance on pink pigeon breeding and care

Where? Mauritius, Indian Ocean

When? 2017–2023

Pink Pigeon

Repeating history?

Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean, was once the home of the most iconic example of extinction – the dodo. The dodo, which was part of the same family as pigeons, was thought to be driven to extinction by over-hunting. Research suggests that the introduction of invasive species along with habitat loss were important factors too. Nobody wants the same fate for the pink pigeon.

A deceptive appearance

Despite the appearance of a lush tropical paradise, only 2% of Mauritian forest remains due to development and agriculture. Much of the greenery seen by tourists is down to plantations and trees that have been introduced for aesthetic purposes. Unsurprisingly, habitat loss contributed significantly to the decline in population, along with the introduction of invasive species.

Introduced plants, such as privet and Chinese guava, outcompeted native species, depriving pink pigeons of both food and nesting material, while introduced pigeon species brought deadly diseases such as trichomonosis, which helped to decimate the pink pigeon population.

Pink Pigeon 2

Back from the brink 

From just a few dozen individuals in the 1970s to around 500 birds today, the pink pigeon has gone from being categorised as critically endangered to vulnerable.

This has been achieved with a combination of habitat protection, the removal of predators and the reintroduction of captive-bred birds. As Paignton Zoo is home to this species, our staff were able to provide support and share knowledge about breeding and rearing pink pigeons over the course of several years

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