South We Go
10Oct/100

Ecotourism on the Mauritius Islands

Having spent one month spilt almost equally between the two Mauritius islands; Mauritius and its little sister Rodrigues I had the chance to see and take part in most of the islands ecotourism activities. Each island has activities to offer, as well as lots of nature to see and enjoy. There are surprisingly lots of differences in the way that tourism has been and is being managed on the two islands.

In order to compare the ecotourism activities and development on both islands it is first important to note the difference is size of the two. The Mauritius is an island 60km wide and 130 long where as Rodriguez is small in comparison measuring only 16km wide and 8km long. Historically both islands were discovered in the same period and the similarities and differences were documented by the explores of the time.

The island of Rodrigues is relatively undiscovered in tourism terms as it is so small and hard to access, on some days there is only one flight a day with a capacity of 80 passengers. The island of Rodrigues has a very strict development policy; they are trying to develop the island in the most environmentally way possible and have limited the number of water sports on offer to those that do not use motor boats. There are only a hand full of motor boats on the island and there use is limited and requires authorization from the department development. The water sports that are practiced are kite surfing, windsurfing, scuba diving, kayaking and snorkelling; there is also one boat that practices deep sea fishing, all other water sports are prohibited.

Rodrigues has three main ecotourism sites. The Gustave Legant Tortoise nature reserve, which breeds the giant tortoises of Madagascar and the Seychelles as well as the Rodrigues fruit bat, the only mammal that is endemic to the island of Rodrigues, the visit of the site is guided and the guide explains the lifecycle of these wonderful animals.

Coco Island is a magical place; it is located 1.5km off the north east coast of Rodrigues, it is a bird sanctuary and access it strictly limited a maximum of 20 tourist by day that must arrive in a very small speed boat that never goes faster then 5km the hour; the trip to the island takes over 1h, no meat is allowed on the island as if the birds eat the leftovers they may become sick, all the visitors must live the island by 3pm at the latest. A guide explains the different types of birds that call this Island home.

The Cavern Patate is a naturally formed cave that is over 1.2km in length of which 600 hundred meters is open to the public; the tour is guided access without a guide is prohibited.

All in all Rodriguez is a small but proud island, they do not have much and are not as developed as Mauritius, but at the same time they are planning their development so it is done with respect to the environment, that is also why development is so slow as the government is weary of big hotel companies that want to come and build big hotels on the island. All the beaches on the island are accessible to the public and the government intends to keep it that way.

Mauritius on the other hand first discovered tourism in the early 1990’s when mass tourism and package holidays were the fashion. This sadly meant that tourism grew rapidly and without much care for the environment as it was seen as an important source of income for the country. Hotels line the beaches, making the beaches private for the use of the hotel guests and building large and long walls to keep out the locals, so it is becoming harder and harder for locals to go to the beach without paying.

The Mauritius has bottle nosed dolphins that live off its coast line, and as you can imagine, all the tourists want to see the dolphins. There is no harm in that, after all they are wonderful mammals, the problem comes that as this has been a very popular tourist attraction  tour companies have started to promise tourists that they will see dolphins if they take there tour, or they get there money back. This results in the dolphins being almost hunted each day by speed boats; which scares the poor animals and does not educated people on how precious marine life is, it encourages tourist stupidity into making them think that animals are attractions.

Eco tourism started on the island of Mauritius as a result of demand from the new age travels, that wanted to experience the island is a eco friendly way. As a result a few eco friendly activities have started to develop.

One of the most popular is Casela nature reserves which started out as a bird sanctuary but has grow to include a Safari, walk with the lions, Segway tours, eco walks. It does take care of the animals in the park and limits human contact with the big cats.

A number of domains have opened up to allow tourists to hunt deer in a controlled way.

The island has a lot of potential for eco tourism as it has mountains and lots of walking and hiking paths can be developed.

After experiencing both islands, it is easy to see the differences in the attitude towards ecotourism. This is easy to explain as Mauritius went through a boom during the time of mass tourism where as Rodriguez is just starting to become a sort after destination.  Mauritius is trying to increase the amount of eco tourism activities available, it will now be up to the tourist to dictate what they would like more of. Lets hope that the modern day tourist well enough educated and responsible enough to demand eco tourism and green activities so that the future of the pearl of the Indian ocean can be a little greener and cleaner.

Having spent one month spilt almost equally between the two Mauritius islands; Mauritius and its little sister Rodrigues I had the chance to see and take part in most of the islands ecotourism activities. Each island has activities to offer, as well as lots of nature to see and enjoy. There are surprisingly lots of differences in the way that tourism has been and is being managed on the two islands.

In order to compare the ecotourism activities and development on both islands it is first important to note the difference is size of the two. The Mauritius is an island 60km wide and 130 long where as Rodriguez is small in comparison measuring only 16km wide and 8km long. Historically both islands were discovered in the same period and the similarities and differences were documented by the explores of the time.

The island of Rodrigues is relatively undiscovered in tourism terms as it is so small and hard to access, on some days there is only one flight a day with a capacity of 80 passengers. The island of Rodrigues has a very strict development policy; they are trying to develop the island in the most environmentally way possible and have limited the number of water sports on offer to those that do not use motor boats. There are only a hand full of motor boats on the island and there use is limited and requires authorization from the department development. The water sports that are practiced are kite surfing, windsurfing, scuba diving, kayaking and snorkelling; there is also one boat that practices deep sea fishing, all other water sports are prohibited.

Rodrigues has three main ecotourism sites. The Gustave Legant Tortoise nature reserve, which breeds the giant tortoises of Madagascar and the Seychelles as well as the Rodrigues fruit bat, the only mammal that is endemic to the island of Rodrigues, the visit of the site is guided and the guide explains the lifecycle of these wonderful animals.

Coco Island is a magical place; it is located 1.5km off the north east coast of Rodrigues, it is a bird sanctuary and access it strictly limited a maximum of 20 tourist by day that must arrive in a very small speed boat that never goes faster then 5km the hour; the trip to the island takes over 1h, no meat is allowed on the island as if the birds eat the leftovers they may become sick, all the visitors must live the island by 3pm at the latest. A guide explains the different types of birds that call this Island home.

The Cavern Patate is a naturally formed cave that is over 1.2km in length of which 600 hundred meters is open to the public; the tour is guided access without a guide is prohibited.

All in all Rodriguez is a small but proud island, they do not have much and are not as developed as Mauritius, but at the same time they are planning their development so it is done with respect to the environment, that is also why development is so slow as the government is weary of big hotel companies that want to come and build big hotels on the island. All the beaches on the island are accessible to the public and the government intends to keep it that way.

Mauritius on the other hand first discovered tourism in the early 1990’s when mass tourism and package holidays were the fashion. This sadly meant that tourism grew rapidly and without much care for the environment as it was seen as an important source of income for the country. Hotels line the beaches, making the beaches private for the use of the hotel guests and building large and long walls to keep out the locals, so it is becoming harder and harder for locals to go to the beach without paying.

The Mauritius has bottle nosed dolphins that live off its coast line, and as you can imagine, all the tourists want to see the dolphins. There is no harm in that, after all they are wonderful mammals, the problem comes that as this has been a very popular tourist attraction tour companies have started to promise tourists that they will see dolphins if they take there tour, or they get there money back. This results in the dolphins being almost hunted each day by speed boats; which scares the poor animals and does not educated people on how precious marine life is, it encourages tourist stupidity into making them think that animals are attractions.

Eco tourism started on the island of Mauritius as a result of demand from the new age travels, that wanted to experience the island is a eco friendly way. As a result a few eco friendly activities have started to develop.

One of the most popular is Casela nature reserves which started out as a bird sanctuary but has grow to include a Safari, walk with the lions, Segway tours, eco walks. It does take care of the animals in the park and limits human contact with the big cats.

A number of domains have opened up to allow tourists to hunt deer in a controlled way.

The island has a lot of potential for eco tourism as it has mountains and lots of walking and hiking paths can be developed.

After experiencing both islands, it is easy to see the differences in the attitude towards ecotourism. This is easy to explain as Mauritius went through a boom during the time of mass tourism where as Rodriguez is just starting to become a sort after destination. Mauritius is trying to increase the amount of eco tourism activities available, it will now be up to the tourist to dictate what they would like more of. Lets hope that the modern day tourist well enough educated and responsible enough to demand eco tourism and green activities so that the future of the pearl of the Indian ocean can be a little greener and cleaner.

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