Ranked 70 among Places to Visit in Mauritius
Time Required: 3-4 hours
The vibrant flora and fauna of Mauritius have served as a significant source of a tourist attraction for years now. The tropical forests covering vast ranges of this paradise island house some of the unique species of animals and birds, some of which are very rare and endemic to Mauritius. Apart from the white sandy beaches and crystal clear lagoons, Mauritius is home to specific locations dedicated explicitly to the wildlife – national parks, natural reserves, botanical gardens – that are quite famous all over the world. And we are going to talk about one of them – the Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary.
Located towards the north-western part of Mauritius in a place called Mer Rouge, the Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary is a unique part of the island for the fact that it shelters hundred of migratory birds temporarily. The birds fly in from places as far as Siberia in order escape the harsh winter over there and suit themselves in the warm temperature of Mauritius.
The Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary is protected under the International Ramsar Convention since 2001 under the supervision of the Mauritian authorities. The Ramsar Convention is responsible for protecting wetlands all over the world. This coastal wetland sanctuary was declared as a reserve in 1997 in accordance to the Wildlife and National Parks Act of 1993.
The Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary is spread out over an area of 26 hectares. As per observatory calculations, nearly 1200 birds visit this sanctuary every year, among which 13 are regular migrant bird species, and 6 are rare migrants. The sanctuary is strictly protected and is under constant monitoring to ensure that no human activities in the nearby areas can affect the reserve in any way.
So much so, to maintain the sanctity and purity of this sanctuary, the industries are strictly prohibited from discharging any kinds of harmful fluids into the water-bodies surrounding the inlet. The dumping site near the sanctuary has been transformed into a compacting waste site, and an animal quarantine site has been shifted to a different place that used to be near the inlet initially.
Here’s a list of some of the common birds that can be found in the estuary during the migrating season:
· Curlew Sandpiper (North USSR)
· Common Sandpiper (Europe)
· Grey Plover (Europe)
· Ruddy Turnstone (Arctic)
· Whimbrel (Europe)
· Little Green Heron
· Common Tern (Europe)
· Greater Sand Plover (Eurasia)
· Lesser Crested Tern (Mer Rouge)
· Little Ringed Plover (Europe)
· Terek Sandpiper (URSS)
· Bar Tailed Godwit (Alaska)
· Green Shank
· Little Stint
A visitors’ centre was built inside the Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary in 2004 from where the people could observe the birds from a closer distance. This inclusion helped tremendously in promoting the ecotourism possibilities without hampering the ambience of the reserve. The visitors can acquaint themselves with all the available information about the birds in the office and also get a chance to use the telescope that has been installed inside the building.
The reserve is open to the public during the week all throughout the year except during the migrating period, which is from October to April, when it is also open in the weekends.
An awareness programme is being carried out in the village of Roche Bois. It is funded by the small grant programmes initiative taken by Global Environment Facility (GEF). The programme is beneficial in understanding the ecosystem in a better way and also for training the eight guides who accompany you on the tour visits to the wetlands. This project has proved to be of great benefit by creating employment opportunities for the villagers of Roches Bois. They sell the locally made souvenirs to the visitors.
Hunting is strictly prohibited inside the premises of the Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary; only the villages are given the liberty to hunt waterfowl such as ducks and geese.
A lot of on-site research projects are being undertaken primarily by the university students related to various aspects like quality of water in the area, checking for metals in the sediments, the presence of E. Coli bacteria and the feeding habits of the birds.
On the world wetland day, awareness programmes are being held in the Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary. It includes a short film about the estuary, distribution of informational pamphlets about the sanctuary and free transport for the school children.
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