Ile aux Aigrettes is a small island located within the Mahebourg Bay. Unlike the mainland of Mauritius which is of volcanic origin, is Ile aux Aigrettes made up of coralline limestone. Ile aux Aigrettes is a glimpse into the early history of Mauritius and home to the last remnants of dry forest that once could be found around most of Mauritius.
Just like the rest of Mauritius, was Ile aux Aigrettes affected by land clearance, tree logging and the introduction of exotic animals and plants, meaning that it almost destroyed the native flora and fauna of the little islet. In 1965 the island was declared a nature reserve and the intense conservation efforts has resulted in the restoration of the forest and reintroduction of the rare species that once life on the island.
On Ile aux Aigrettes you can experience the ebony tree along with 20 other endemic plant and species. You can also experience the rare Pink Pigeon, the ornate day Geckos, giant Aldabra Tortoises and the famous Mauritian Kestrel, which is the only bird of prey of Mauritius that was saved from extinction. There are also old cannons, ruins and buildings bearing the witness of the French and British present on the island.
When visiting Ile aux Aigrettes take a walk along the ‘Dodo Trail’ where you will experience various wood species such as the ebony tree that is endemic to Mauritius. You will also have the opportunity to experience some of the rare Mauritian bird, such as the Pink Pigeon and Mauritian Kestrel. You can also watch the lazy giant tortoises grazing the undergrowth along with the local fruit bats hanging head down from the branches.
When walking along the tracks and paths, the positive results of the continuous efforts to reintroduce rare Mauritian bird species can clearly be seen. Ile aux Aigrettes also hosts a nursery that are used to propagate rare plants, where one of them is the Yellowwood that only had four specimens left in their natural habitat, where one was on Ile aux Aigrettes.
The Mauritius Wildlife Foundation (MWF) is dedicated to conservation of rare species and has put tremendous efforts in getting rid of exotic species on Ile aux Aigrettes and let the original forest recover. The endemic birds of Mauritius and the giant tortoise have been reintroduced as a part of the recovery.