Mauritius is home to a number of endemic and highly endangered species of mammals, birds, reptiles and plants. The wildlife of Mauritius is composed of its flora and fauna. Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean to the east of Madagascar. Due to its isolation, it has a relatively low diversity of wildlife; however, a high proportion of these are endemic species occurring nowhere else in the world. Many of these are now threatened with extinction because of human activities including habitat destruction and the introduction of non-native species. Some have already become extinct, most famously the dodo which disappeared in the 17th century.
The DODO bird Mauritius
The native mammalian fauna of Mauritius is limited to bats and marine mammals. The Mauritius flying fox and Rodrigues flying fox are large fruit bats endemic to the islands.
A number of mammals have been introduced including rats, mice, tenrecs, mongooses, rusa deer and crab-eating macaques.
Flying fox Mauritius
Crab eating macaque
Over 100 species of bird have been recorded in Mauritius. There are seven or eight surviving endemic species on the main island depending on taxonomy. The Mauritius grey white-eye is the commonest of these, being widespread across the island including in man-made habitats. The others are less common and are mainly restricted to the Black River Gorges National Park in the south-west of the island. The Mauritius kestrel, Mauritius parakeet and pink pigeon all came close to extinction but are now increasing thanks to intensive conservation efforts.
Mauritius Pink Pigeon
Rodrigues Island has two further endemic species, the Rodrigues warbler and Rodrigues fody. Seabird colonies are present on many of the smaller islands of the country.
A wide variety of birds have been introduced into Mauritius. These include some of the most common and conspicuous birds of the islands including the common myna, Madagascar fody, red-whiskered bulbul and zebra dove. The common myna is becoming a pest due to its well documented habit of displacing smaller bird species from their habitat and also destroying the smaller bird species young. The mynas were introduced for commercial reasons, primarily to help control the locusts which eat the sugar cane leafage, instead, they prey on small indigenous lizards which are easier to catch due to their basking habits which is required for their metabolism, the lizards have become the mynas primary source of food, but due to the myna's preying on these lizards an imbalance is being created with insects which the lizard would prey on which the common myna doesn't eat due to its inability to crawl under rocks and forage in the dense grass, flora, and fauna.
A number of endemic reptiles are found in Mauritius, particularly on Round Island. These include day geckos, night geckos , skinks and the keel-scaled boa. Giant tortoises formerly occurred but are now extinct.
Coral reefs are found around most of the Mauritian coastline, most of the coral life on the ring reef and within the lagoons has been destroyed due to the practice of dynamite fishing which was allowed up to the seventies, the exception is areas which are inaccessible to indigenous fishermen due to excessively rough seas. The fish life in the lagoons and seas around most of the villages and towns is virtually non existent due to overfishing by the locals who utilise any form of device to catch any marine protein, all fish species and crustaceans are landed irrespective of size and, in the case of lobsters, when the female lobsters have berries. The lobster population has been decimated to the extent that lobsters are now imported from Madagascar for the tourist (hotel) industry and local consumptiom. Spear Guns are illegal in Mauritius however the local fishermen use them extensively with which to hunt fish, there is a huge anomaly between the laws which exist to preserve and protect fish and the enforcement of these laws, The coast guard is under tight budgetary constraints and does very little patrolling, they are also reluctant to enforce existing laws with creole fishermen as they are deemed un-prosecutable due to their indigenous status.
At Flic en Flac, on the west coast, there is a resident pod of dolphins which has the habit of resting,socialising and reproducing in a cove 2km South of Flic en Flac but are continuously harassed and exploited by commercial speed boat operators, the speed boats will gather as close to the dolphins as they can, sometimes directly over the moving pod of dolphins, whereupon they then shadow the dolphins and allow tourists to swim with the dolphins, the tourists in the water do their best to try and touch the dolphins, the end result is that the dolphins now move on instead of resting in this cove.
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