Amazing Animals You Can See – Wildlife in Mauritius

If you count yourself among the world’s nature lovers, you’ll find much to rejoice about when visiting the island nation of Mauritius. Although the island is more known for its white sand beaches, watersports, and amazing resorts, it’s also home to a wide variety of wild animals and plant species. Several of these are rare endemic species that you’ll find nowhere else! 

Let’s explore the wildlife of Mauritius a bit further.

Why Choose Mauritius for Wildlife?

The Indian Ocean is a region with several islands renowned for their biodiversity. Two of the most famous are probably Sri Lanka and Madagascar. On Sri Lanka, 16% of its animal life and 23% of its plant life are native and unique to the island, impressive considering its size. 

Madagascar meanwhile is renowned as a sort of evolutionary control group, a land-mass isolated for 70 million years that houses a great diversity of species with similarities to life in South America and Asia, as well as nearby Africa.

Many people don’t consider Mauritius for wildlife viewing. But since it boasts a more fully developed tourist infrastructure, it’s a good option for a more casual wildlife observer. If your vacation isn’t predominantly about viewing wildlife, but you still want to see some unique animal species, Mauritius is an excellent choice.

Mauritian Birds

Starting out a list of birds with a pigeon may not sound too interesting, but keep reading, because this one is special! The Pink Pigeon is endemic to Mauritius, meaning it can’t be found anywhere else. It is listed as critically endangered, because only around 400 individuals remain in the wild.

Pink Pigeon perched on a branch in Mauritius

It’s a stunningly-beautiful bird, with bright pink and grey plumage and a distinctive white patch on its tail. It is known to inhabit the rainforest and high-altitude areas of Mauritius, where it feeds on fruits, seeds, and flowers. The best places to see the pink pigeon in Mauritius are in the Black River Gorges National Park, the Macchabee Forest, and the Ferney Valley Nature Reserve. These protected areas offer visitors the opportunity to witness this rare and beautiful bird species in its natural habitat.

Another special bird that you’ll only find in Mauritius is the Echo Parakeet, also called the Mauritian Parakeet. It has vibrant green feathers, pinkish-red bill, and a lovely black “necklace”.

Echo Parakeet hopping onto a tree branch in Mauritius

Another threatened species, it’s the only surviving parrot species on the island. The Echo Parakeet population was severely depleted due to habitat loss and hunting in the 20th century, but conservation efforts have helped increase the population from just 10 birds in the 1980s to around 800 birds today. To see the Echo Parakeet in the wild, visitors can go to the Black River Gorges National Park or the Macchabee Forest, which are two of the protected areas where the bird is known to live.

What other endemic bird species inhabit Mauritius?

Other endemic bird species are:

  • the Mauritius Kestrel (the island’s national bird)
  • the Mauritius Fody
  • the Mauritius Bulbul
  • the Mauritius Olive White-eye
  • the Mauritius Cuckoo-Shrike
  • the Rodrigues Brush Warbler.
Red-whiskered bulbul

Overall, there are about 100 species of birds that frequently visit the island. Many of these bird species were once critically endangered due to habitat loss and hunting, but conservation efforts have helped increase their populations in recent years. Mauritius is the best place to see them all by far!

Mauritian Mammals

Mammals are not particularly prevalent in Mauritius, but two native species of Mauritian fruit bats are well-known. The Mauritian Flying Fox is found on the island of Mauritius, and the Rodrigues Flying Fox (aka Rodrigues Fruit Bat) is found on the nearby small island of Rodrigues, which is owned by Mauritius.

Mauritian Flying Fox hanging upside-down

These are the only significant native mammal species, though there are other introduced species that are also considered invasive. Among them are rats and monkeys (Crab-eating Macaques), both renowned pest-species that cause problems for local conservation. Unfortunately, most of the island’s native mammals have gone extinct due to human activities such as deforestation, hunting, and the introduction of non-native species.

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Mauritian Reptiles

Where there are few mammals, reptilian life often flourishes, and this is true of the wildlife of Mauritius. Sadly, the Domed and Saddle-backed Mauritian Giant Tortoises that were once native to the island have gone extinct. Capable of living long lives and hibernating in harsh conditions, Giant Tortoises had the great misfortune of tasting great and surviving long voyages. (You can still see one captive giant tortoise species on the island: the Aldabra Giant Tortoise, a native of the Seychelles.)

Mauritius ornate day gecko

Surviving Mauritian natives include a number of lizards:

  • Mauritius Lowland Forest Day Gecko
  • Mauritius Upland Forest Day Gecko
  • Blue-tailed Day Gecko
  • Gunther’s Gecko or Round Island Day Gecko
  • Mauritius Ornate Day Gecko (photo above)

The endangered Round Island Boa is a notable snake seen only on the tiny island north of Mauritius.

The Specter of Extinction

The conservation issues that loom over Mauritius are worth mentioning to those interested in the island’s wildlife. After all, Mauritius most famous former resident is synonymous in the public conscience with the tragedy of extinction: the flightless, 3 foot tall Dodo was quickly hunted to extinction by sailors landing on the island in the 17th Century. 

Black River Gorges National Park

Today, Mauritian authorities are aware of their effect on their natural national treasures. Mauritius boasts square 110km of national park, with the greater half of that being the beautiful Black River Gorges National Park. Your ethical tourism and support of their efforts can help improve the species’ chances of survival.

Nevertheless, developments on the island still threaten many of the species mentioned above. By visiting the island specifically to view its wildlife, you send the message that the local government’s priority should be to preserve habitats, rather than use the land for more hotels, malls and financial establishments.

The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation

The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) is one organization trying to help preserve Mauritius’s land and the wildlife it supports. MWF is an NGO (non-governmental organization, what we in the US would call a non-profit) that was founded in 1984. Their mission is to conserve and restore Mauritius’ natural resources, especially the endemic and endangered flora and fauna.

MWF’s conservation projects include habitat restoration, species recovery, and invasive species control. The foundation also operates wildlife reserves and sanctuaries, such as the Black River Gorges National Park and the Ile aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve.

View the Wildlife of Mauritius for Yourself

Have we convinced you to visit? If so, find out where to stay in Mauritius so that you can explore the very best the island has to offer!

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