I live now upon an island
Posted onJune 30, 2022by|,
Blue Bay, Mauritius – Bonjour de l’Ile Maurice!
I’ve travelled from the Brit…(ish) island of Jersey to the vibrant tropical island of Mauritius in the southwest Indian Ocean where I’ll be participating in hands-on species and habitat recovery projects around Mauritius and its offshore islands for the next part of my journey as Canada’s New Noah.
Covid is an ongoing concern, especially for small teams that live and work together in the field, so just in case, my first few days in Mauritius were spent in self-isolation. While I may not have been able to socialize with the rest of the team just yet, I was fortunately able to visit the lovely white sand beaches and turquoise waters of Blue Bay, my base on mainland Mauritius.
The welcoming committe on Ile aux Aigrettes – an Aldabra giant tortoise.
The required tortoise selfie.
The most famous bird of Mauritius, the dodo.
The lush forest of Ile aux Aigrettes
The beautiful Ile aux Aigrettes gave me my first taste of an offshore island and the work undertaken by the island restoration team, a collaborative initiative between the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. The last remnants of coastal forest have been restored on this coralline limestone island through extensive efforts to remove invasive species, plant native plant species, and reintroduce endemic birds and reptiles. Through many years of hard work, the now lush island showcases what coastal Mauritius may have been like before humans arrived 400 years ago.
After my island initiation on Ile aux Aigrettes, I was dropped by helicopter for a two week stint on the famous Round Island. To protect the island from any accidental introductions of invasive species, I had to check and quarantine everything I planned to bring with me (even my underwear!) for seeds, insects, or sneaky little house geckos. The 219-ha closed nature reserve is managed by the National Parks and Conservation Service, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
This nature reserve is vastly different from the verdant Ile aux Aigrettes. Introduced goats and rabbits decimated most of the native vegetation on Round Island until their eradication in the 1970-80s, and while restoration work has been ongoing since then, there is still a long way to go due to the depleted condition of the ecosystem. However, there is a desolate beauty to the island, which still teems with wildlife, from skinks running around under foot to seabirds zooming overhead.
Remote Round Island
Working on the world-renowned conservation projects that I learned so much about on the Durrell Endangered Species Management course is a rare opportunity and I can’t wait to share more of my experiences with you as I spend time getting to know these exceptional places and their wildlife!
Until next time,
Check back often for new blog updates. In the meantime, check out the other great work being done by WPC to save some of Canada’s most endangered species.