There's something very special about Indian Ocean islands and particularly in terms of the wonderful conservation work which has been and is being undertaken on some of them. Round Island was made famous by the work of Gerald Durrell and Jersey Zoo but it was the persistent and consistent work of a Welshman Carl Jones which enabled the saved species on Mauritius to thrive. Now the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation is a vibrant organisation whose achievements, not only in the saving of species by captive breeding programmes but, equally importantly, the restoration of original habitat, are amazing. It is the MWF who are responsible for the on-going work on the neighbouring island of Rodrigues whilst on Réunion it is French conservationists who undertake similar work.
Collectively the islands are known as The Mascarenes after the Portuguese sailor, Pedro de Mascarenhas, who discovered them at the beginning of the 16th century although they had probably been previously known to Arab seafarers. They make up an amazing diversity of landscapes, wildlife and cultures. From the demise of the Dodo to the saving of species such as the Pink Pigeon from extinction, natural history on the islands has never been far from the headlines.
Visit the Isle aux Aigrettes where both the Pink Pigeon and Mauritius Kestrel have been re-introduced and don't forget Rodrigues, a small, mountainous island where the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation runs a re-forestation project with the local community. Two special birds, the Fody and the Warbler, live only here.
The islets have some spectacular seabird colonies and there are fascinating caves where sub-fossil evidence of extinct species has been found. Then visit Réunion, a hilly island with wild forested cirques rising up to over 3,000m. Because of the height and inaccessibility of the higher parts of Réunion, many endemic species have survived in much healthier numbers than on Mauritius and Rodrigues. The island's endemics include Barau's Petrel which nests amongst the cirques and only comes ashore at night.
Visit the avaries and plant nurseries and learn about the pioneering techniques of rare species conservation from staff of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation on both Mauritius and Rodrigues, whilst on Réunion you will see conservation work being carried out by the French Government at the Conservatoire Botanique.