Mark Twain once journaled, ‘You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius’. For anyone who has travelled to this island paradise off the coast of South East Africa, the truth in Twain’s words is clear.
Mauritius is a paradise because it is so biologically unique, forming part of the Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands biodiversity hotspot. This is due to the island’s high level of endemism, meaning that many of its plants and animals can only be found there. In fact, Mauritius is recognised by the IUCN as a “Centre of Plant Diversity”. This exceptional endemism comes as a result of the island’s location, age, isolation and varied landscape, leading to remarkable percentages of endemic species: 39% of plants, 80% of non-marine birds, 80% of reptiles, and 40% of bat species reported as endemic. Forests support 691 species of indigenous flowering plants, 52 native species of vertebrates and 30 species of land birds. Another major ecosystem for Mauritius is the marine environment, comprising 16,840 km2 of territorial sea and 1,700 species, including 786 species of fish, 17 species of marine mammals, and 2 species of marine turtles.
Sadly, this unique paradise of biodiversity is at risk. The main reason for this this is habitat loss and degradation.
This is why our conservation team is now working with partners in Mauritius to address conservation challenges. This will be done through establishing new conservation projects on the island to support existing research efforts, and incorporating these into a brand new programme for volunteers. Volunteers will be needed for many duties, including:
- Marine conservation
- Data collection for conservation research
- Monitoring endangered species such as the Mauritius Kestrel
- Biodiversity transects
- Tortoise conservation (The Aldabra tortoise which has been brought in to replace the role of extinct Mauritian Giant Tortoise)
- Mauritius Fruit Bat conservation
- Species specific conservation of birds – pink pigeons, Olive White-eyes, Mauritius Fody.
- Beach clean-ups
- Environmental education and awareness workshops
- Community work
We are thrilled to be offering this new volunteering opportunity!
You could be Conserving Biodiversity in Mauritius with us from April 2020. If you are interested in volunteering with us in Mauritius, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Taryn Ingram-Gillson, Conservationist