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MAURITIUS DISCOVERY
» 01 Apr 2008
THE MAURITIAN WILDLIFE FOUNDATION

Faced with an escalating number of environmental threats, countries around the world are paying more and more attention to concepts such as  ecotourism, ecosystem management, and wildlife preservation. Mauritius is proud to be among those countries which aim to conserve ecological systems and natural settings, while providing opportunities for recreational experiences. Working with the  Government of Mauritius and both International and Local Organizations, The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) plays an essential role in  enabling the island to achieve this aim.

The MWF is the only non-governmental organization (NGO) in Mauritius to be exclusively concerned with the conservation of the endangered endemic plants and animals of the island. This vibrant organization works through hands-on actions and is also active on Rodrigues and offshore islets. Its main aim is to breathe new life into the island's flora and fauna. The management of native forests and small islands such as Ile aux Aigrettes and Round Island forms part of its many activities. Since the 1970's, it has successfully saved a range of threatened Mauritian plant and animal species, and significantly restored some ecosystems.


The Mauritius Kestrel, Pink Pigeon, Echo Parakeet, Rodrigues Fody, Rodrigues Warbler and Rodrigues Fruit Bat are endemic species which have been saved from extinction by the Foundation. Thanks to MWF, the Mauritius Kestrel was downgraded from Critically Endangered to Endangered in 1994 and then to Vulnerable in 2000 by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). This species was once widely distributed over the island. With the destruction and degradation of native forest the numbers declined dramatically. By 1974 only four individuals were known to survive in the Lower Black River Gorges including a single known breeding female. The Mauritius Kestrel was then regarded as the world's rarest bird. The Foundation was instrumental in creating a captive population, and the young birds produced were subsequently released into the wild. Breeding success was maximized by supplementary feeding and the nests were protected from introduced predators such as rats and monkeys. Latest surveys indicate that there are over 600 free flying Mauritius Kestrels currently.

Similarly, the Pink Pigeon was once widely distributed throughout Mauritius. The main reasons for the decline of the Pink Pigeon population have been habitat loss following economic development and degradation caused by invasive exotic weed species. By the mid 1970's the population of Pink Pigeons comprised merely 20 birds living at Plaine Paul near Bassin Blanc. MWF rescued this imperiled species from the brink of extinction and has led a release programme into the wild since 1988. The Foundation still maintains supplementary feeding, disease and predator management so that future generations can behold this unique bird. Over 380 individuals thrive in the wild today.


The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation not only conserves but also teaches us to value our natural environment. It constantly promotes ecological awareness and strives to create a world where humans, animals and plants can cohabit in perfect accord. Through its various laudable projects, the Foundation has allowed both Mauritians and tourists to experience joy and rejuvenation amidst native wilderness.

 
FOR AN INSIGHT INTO THE FOUNDATION'S PROJECT, PLEASE VISIT ILE AUX AIGRETTES.

 

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