Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Postcard from Mauritius

Prior to 1598 there was no human habitation on the island of Mauritius. The Dutch who were the first to colonise Mauritius, named it after their ruler, Prince Maurice Van Nassau. Ebony forests were destroyed by overexploitation and the dodo was exterminated. It later became the symbol of endangered animal species and conservation worldwide. In 1710 the Dutch left Mauritius. In 1715 The French took possession of the island and re-named it ‘Île de France’.

The Dodo
Credit goes to this bird that put Mauritius, for the first time, on the world map. Though extinct for more than 300 years now, the giant bird still continues to stir amazement in visitors at the country’s National History Museum, where one of the few remaining skeletons is on display.

Le Morne Cultural Landscape, a rugged mountain that juts into the Indian Ocean in the southwest of Mauritius was used as a shelter by runaway slaves, maroons, through the 18th and early years of the 19th centuries. Protected by the mountain’s isolated, wooded and almost inaccessible cliffs, the escaped slaves formed small settlements in the caves and on the summit of Le Morne.


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