The island of Ile Aux Aigrettes is located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Mauritius. It is a satellite of the nation Mauritius, it is currently managed and leased by MWF, Mauritius Wildlife Foundation. It is a flat island of coralline limestone reaching only 13 meters above sea level at its highest point. It is a relatively small island, only 64 acres.
The first to discover this island where the Dutch in the 1500’s, they originally landed in Mauritius and getting to the island was no challenge. They where on island until 1712, leaving behind a lot of defrosted land due to the chopping down of their precious woods. After the Dutch the French landed in 1715 and used the island to supply their lime Industry. They continued the deforestation of the island because they needed the wood to fire the kiln, when these trees got to a low count they introduced exotic species of plant to the island to supplement. Inclusively, they chopped down trees to make way for the sugar cane. This causes many species to become extinct or endangered due to the destruction of their habitat. One of these species that became extinct was the Dodo.
After the French the British used the island for a military base during World War II, this further killed the island of its indigenous species of plants and tress to make room for buildings. They supposedly needed it to protect the mainland from invasion, since they planted to cannons on the island as well. Later on the island was privately leased and in 1965 it was declared a Natural Reserve although chopping down of the trees continued. In 1985 the MWF set up a restoration project. They had many goals that they wanted to achieve which included to remove all exotic species of plants from the island, spread and replant indigenous species of the Mauritian fauna, eradicate shrews who feed on the seeds of certain plants and the eggs of the native, reintroduce the endemic species of the birds of reptiles of Maurice on to the island and restore this unique habitat to its natural state of 400 years ago. In 2009 the project ended with huge success, it managed to eradicate all exotic species and reintroduced most of the indigenous animals that where originally on the island. One of these animals included Giant Aldabran Tortoises.
This is an amazing island to visit if you want to see exotic species of animals and plants. It is also an amazing story of how humans can help restore an island scarred from hundreds of years of exploitation.
Carlos and Jon