Mauritius is best known for its sunny climate and idyllic beaches, but it was once home to a variety of endemic plants and animals. The most famous was the Dodo Raphus cucullatus, and this bird has become a true icon of extinction. The island has now lost almost its entire fauna, and only about 1% of the original forest remains. The Mauritius Wildlife Foundation (MWF) has been at the forefront in preventing further extinctions, and their success in saving species such as the Echo Parakeet, Pink Pigeon and Mauritius Fody is unprecedented.
Mauritius has a number of islets within the surrounding lagoon, some like Ilot Sancho can be reached by walking, whereas others like Ile aux Aigrettes requires a boat. The latter islet is part of MWF’s conservation programme, and a number of endemic birds and plants can be viewed at close quarters. Mauritius has some interesting scenery and spectacular views. A hike up Le Pouce Mountain is well worth the effort, as on one side you see the rest of the Moka Range and on the other the central highlands, which are now a monoculture of sugar cane.