Species: Pink pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri)
Status: Endangered (EN)
Interesting Fact: In the 1980s, a tiny grove of cedar trees which housed the entire wild population of pink pigeons became known as ‘Pigeon Wood’.
Also known as the Mauritius pink pigeon, the pink pigeon is a rare endemic bird found only on the island of Mauritius and the adjacent Ile aux Aigrettes. As its name suggests, the pink pigeon has a pink head, neck and breast, although its back is brown and it has a reddish-brown tail. This species breeds in most months of the year, with both adults helping to raise the brood of two chicks. The pink pigeon feeds on buds, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds of both native and introduced plants. Although this pigeon originally inhabited native evergreen forest, it is now mainly found among non-native trees such as the Japanese red cedar.
The pink pigeon underwent a dramatic decline in the last century due to severe deforestation combined with predation by introduced mammals such as mongooses, rats and cats. Cyclones are also a potential threat to this rare bird and can destroy its nest sites. By the early 1990s, the situation for the pink pigeon had become critical, with just ten individuals left in the wild. Fortunately, intensive conservation efforts have rescued this endemic bird from the brink of extinction, with a captive breeding programme increasing the wild population to over 350 individuals today. Other efforts to protect this species include habitat restoration, predator control and providing supplementary food. Although the pink pigeon still requires continued management if it is to survive, the miraculous recovery of this species is considered to be a great conservation success story.
Find out more about the pink pigeon and its conservation at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust – Mauritius pink pigeon.
Read more about conservation on Mauritius at the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.
You can also find out more about the wildlife of Mauritius and other Indian Ocean islands on the ARKive Indian Ocean islands page.
Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author