Video: A Tour of Round Island, Mauritius
Approximately 20 kilometres northeast of mainland Mauritius, in the sapphire blue seas of the Indian Ocean, lies Île Ronde (Round Island). Off limits to the public, the island sits quietly on the horizon when viewed from the tourist beaches in north Mauritius. Unknown to many who view it from a distance, the island habitat acts as a monument to an ecosystem almost entirely whipped out by human intervention.
Although hit by massive ecological change over the past few hundred years, Round Island still houses an internationally famous coastal palm and reptile community once found all across lowland Mauritius. Seven species of native reptile still exist on Round Island and prior to recent reintroduction’s to other offshore islands, four of these species were entirely restricted to Round Island. The steep rocky slopes are also home to one of the most important seabird colonies in the South West Indian Ocean with 7 species of seabird known to breed on the island totalling up to around 85,000 breeding pairs visiting every year.
Before human occupation of Mauritius, Round Island was not as unique as we see it today. During the past ice age, the shallow waters around Mauritius receded forming a land corridor between Round Island and the mainland allowing the free movement of species. As humans arrived in the Mascarene Islands, they brought with them an army of invasive predators and herbivores, which resulted in plant and reptile populations significantly declining with some species being whipped out entirely. Fortunately, invasive predators never made it to Round Island and some reptile populations that went extinct on the mainland managed to survive unnoticed for over 100 years in the remaining island palm forests.
Today, a team of dedicated biologists monitor the island day and night, working tirelessly to try and protect the species still present on the island through important habitat restoration.
For my first Round Island video, I give a brief tour of the place I live and work while talking about the natural history of the island. Most of what I talk about in this video I will go into more detail about in the future but here is a little taster of where I will be reporting from over the next 6 months worth of videos.