Ile aux Aigrettes is a preserved island found in the Mahebourg Bay approximately 850m off the southern east of Mauritius. Ile aux Aigrettes is made up mainly of coralline limestone home to the last remnants of dry coastal forest. Ile aux Aigrettes is named after a colony of Egrets, long ago inhabited the island in the 1600’s.
It is about 25 hectares declared officially as a nature conservation site and today is preserved by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. In 1965 the island was declared a nature reserve which have led to the restoration and reintroduction of rare species long ago disappeared from the island. Like the mainland, Ile aux Aigrettes was affected by tree logging and land clearance, and the introduction of exotic animal and plant species almost destroyed the native fauna and flora.
On a boat, a guide will take you from Pointe Jerome, followed by a 1.6 to 2 hour walking trail. You will be led by a trained ecotour ranger who will gladly introduce you to the exotic and unique flora and fauna. They will share not only their knowledge of the local area and the history of the island but also they will explain how the restoration process has been made on the island.
You are requested to bring walking shoes, a bottle of water, sun cream to protect yourself from the sun, bug repellant cream, hats or caps and some money to make purchases in the souvenir shop.
The native forest of Ile aux Aigrettes was cleared during the Second World War 2 by the British in order to make it a military base.
About twenty buildings from this period are left so after the period of war, Ile aux Aigrettes was leased for the rearing of goats.
To restore the vegetation and fauna of the island to its original state, the Mauritian Wildlife Appeal Fund (MWAF) established a habitat rehabilitation in 1985. Despite offering the opportunity to the public for visiting the island, MWAF is continuing the restoration so as future generations may enjoy this unique place of authentic Mauritius nature.
To be noted that the tailor tour for photography or bird watching for example is a private tour and can be booked before your arrival.
When visiting Ile aux Aigrettes you will get to see breath-taking scenery of the South East of Mauritius, and will be given a glimpse of the early history of Mauritius.
You will also get to see beautiful trees with strange names like Ox wood, Pipe wood, Rat wood and Bottle palm. There is also the chance to see a rare orchid in full bloom.
At the end of the tour, you will get to purchase souvenirs at the gift shop at the Visitors’ Center.
The restoration and preservation of the nature state of the island are financed by all the revenues of the tours on the islands and from the gift shop.After the tour to Ile aux Aigrettes, you will return back to Pointe Jerome by motor boat.
Learning with Nature
It is not only a natural museum with endemic species but also offers the Learning with Nature programme on Ile aux Aigrettes set in motion in 2009. This programme targets particularly students from Forms 1-2 students. They are introduced to conservation work which are being carried in the country and at the same time supporting curriculum subjects.
The Learning with Nature tour is about following the Sentier du Dodo nature trail. . Along the way which covers about 1. 5 km students learn about the flora and fauna found in line with their science syllabus. We also look at the history, geography and geology of the island. Stopping points along the trail enable the students to take part in hands-on activities, exploring themes such as biotic and abiotic factors, habitat, herbivores and carnivores, endemism, food chains, etc.