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RODRIGUES
Plants and Animals

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Rodrigues

Plants and Animals

Plants

There are 42 endemic plant species on Rodrigues, seven of which have only a few specimens left. These include the Rodrigues hibiscus, of which at one time there were only two left on Rodrigues. One of the rarest plants in the world is the "Café Marron" of which only one specimen still exists in the wild on the island.

Most of the indigenous plants are also found on the other Maskarene islands, although in lesser numbers. Examples are two orchids, the Angraecum mauritianum and the Angraecum pectinatum and a species of liana, the "Liane savon". An endangered shrub is the Obetia ficifolia or "Bois d'ortie", which is also found in Réunion and is pollinated by one particular species of butterfly. Another rare shrub is the Clerodendron heterophyllum or "Bois de chenille".

Two rare tree species on Rodrigues are the Eleaodendron orientale or "Bois rouge" and the Ochrosia borbonica or "Bois jaune".

Animals

It turns out that rats, rather than the ubiquitous goats, are the biggest threat to the native plants. Even the pandanus tree, which is still very common, is under threat; there are hardly any young trees left because all the seeds are eaten by the rats. It is also clear that the non-native vegetation is rapidly encroaching on the native vegetation, especially eucalyptus, sisal and lantana. The Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, together with the Mauritian government, is trying to set up a rescue programme and the first results are very encouraging.

When the first settlers arrived on Rodrigues, the forested landscape was populated by a bizarre fauna with large herds of giant tortoises, many dugongs in the lagoons and many endemic bird species. However, these special animals were soon extinct.

The two endemic bird species that survived are among the world's most endangered. They are the greyish Rodrigues Garden Warbler, which still has about 25 pairs, and the beautiful orange-yellow Rodrigues Fody, which is one of the rarest weaverbirds, with about 200 pairs. Large seabird colonies can be found on the islands around Rodrigues. The idyllic Ilot Cocos is a breeding ground for the common gull.

Rodrigues is home to only one endemic mammal, the Rodrigues bison. There are about 2000 of them left, quite a lot compared to the mid-1970s when there were only 120 left on Rodrigues.


Sources

Ellis, R. / Mauritius, Rodrigues & Réunion : the Mascarene isles
Bradt

Mauritius, Réunion & Seychelles
Lonely Planet

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
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