Updated: Jan 18
I have recently come back from a holiday to Mauritius. It is a well-known tourist destination, being an idyllic tropical island in the Indian Ocean. Many people say it has now become over commercialised, but I can assure you that in my experience, if anything it is under-commercialised. I spent time visiting many different public beaches on the central east, and south west coasts, and most of the beaches I visited were almost deserted, featuring vast white sandy beaches, fringed with palm trees and turquoise clear waters. There were no beach vendors selling drinks or ice creams, no parking issues, no crowds of people, generally there was not much of anything except tranquility. The town I stayed on the south west coast, although featuring a small supermarket and several restaurants, didn’t even have a petrol station, and I had to drive all the way to the next major town to fill up.
Mauritius is also known as the place where the Dodo came from and subsequently went extinct. However, that is only the tip of the iceberg, as more than 130 species of plants and animals have become extinct on the island, with only two percent of the indigenous flora left. Go and have a look at some of the species you will never be able to see, ranging from owls, parrots, night-herons, rails and more: https://rainforests.mongabay.com/biodiversity/en/mauritius/EX.html
Mauritius has so much going for it. It is constantly among the top one or two richest countries by GDP per capita in Africa, it has a very low crime rate, and of course its an island paradise. So the thing that really annoyed me while I was there, is that the tourism market is fixated on the Dodo. The Dodo and its extinction reminds me of the very worst part of Mauritius’s history. Does the tourism industry really have to have it on every souvenir for sale, and every brand and bottle of rum for export?
I think it’s time to ditch the Dodo, especially in these times as consumers and the youth become more conscious of the environment and sustainability. There are amazing success stories from Mauritius where they have saved some of their last remaining indigenous species including the Pink Pigeon and Mauritius Kestrel from the brink of extinction. In 1991 there were only ten Pink Pigeons left, but through conservation and captive breeding programmes, there are now hundreds. The Mauritius Kestrel is even more remarkable, as at one stage there was only one female alive in the wild, but today the numbers have increased to around fifty I believe. Let’s rather celebrate success than continue with an ugly remnant of the past.