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People are relative newcomers on Mauritius. Thanks to the island’s isolated location in the Indian Ocean, nature had the opportunity to evolve in a unique manner. The most famous example is the dodo bird, which welcomed Dutch explorers in 1598. The goofy giant suffered a well-known fate: within only 7 decades the species had been completely wiped out.
The fact that the most famous inhabitant of Mauritius is an extinct bird perhaps helped garner appreciation for the rest of the island’s fragile nature. Since the last century, many endangered animals have been protected in nature reserves. This is not only good for the falcons, tortoises and bats in question, but has also boosted local tourism. To make sure you don’t miss anything, we provide 3 examples that prove Mauritius is more than just an amazing beach.
A tour of the Île aux Aigrettes, a coral island off the coast of Mahébourg, gives visitors an impression of what Mauritius must have looked like when the first explorers arrived. In 1965, the entire region was declared a nature reserve and non-native plants and animals were removed as much as possible. What remains is a healthy native bird population that includes the Mauritius fody and the pink pigeon. The atoll is also home to approximately 20 Aldabra giant tortoises, including Big Daddy, a 90-year-old specimen.
The Black River Gorges National Park is home to the majority of indigenous flora and fauna of Mauritius, including a population of black flying foxes, the largest indigenous mammals on the island that have a wing span of up to 80 cm. Hikers may also spot non-native deer, wild boar and macaques. The park features 60 kilometres of hiking trails with many viewpoints overlooking the green valleys, waterfalls and crater lakes. Those who don’t have the time or the energy to undertake one of the hiking routes can also take a mini road trip through the park.
The 282-year-old Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens near Pamplemousses in the interior of Mauritius are some of the most renowned botanical gardens in the world. This is not only because of their famous visitors, such as Nelson Mandela and members of the British royal family, who planted a few seedlings here. The variety of palm trees alone is impressive. But the real eye-catcher is the pond filled with Victoria amazonica water lilies: the leaves can have a diameter of up to 3 metres.