14th October 2012, saw a memorable event on Round Island where some 30 boas were translocated to ensure survival in the event of a major drawback on the island itself. When Gerald Durrell visited this Nature reserve back in 1977, there were less than 100 of these reptiles remaining and then it started with long and tedious conservation work which included eradication of goats and rabbits, which had already destroyed much of the islands biodiversity. Today the boa population estimated at over 1000 individuals has made it safe to translocate some of the individuals to further ensure the survival of this species. It is worth pointing out that this translocation is a first in its kind in this part of the world and is a sign of commitment to save our biodiversity.
|The Round Island Boa, Casarea dussumieri|
Round Island in itself has undergone much transformation through the years with the eradication of much of the invasive species and a significant increase in tree cover. Today the island stands as an irrefutable example of shear human effort and sweat. As one walks through the gullies and cliffs we can find a lot of regeneration of palms and pandanus. There has also been some reintroduction of native flora and each individual successful plant is a reward and encouragement for further effort since there is so much more to be done. For example the Dictyosperma album var conjugatum has a single individual standing on a sheltered rock slope and is currently being propagated on the Nature Reserve island Ile aux Aigrettes, so that it can be reintroduced in greater numbers.
The major challenge to rehabilitate the island remains water scarcity. Conservation management of a 219Ha islet lying some 23km off the coast is simply not possible without water be it for the people working there and the plants and animals being saved. Rain water harvesting and some stop dams have proven useful along with the judicious use of this resource through micro irrigation and paying individual attention to every plant. This hostile environment has however been beneficial in the sense that it forces us to re-invent ourselves with re-engineering the way we do things each time and doing it better.
Coming back to the boa translocation work, this has been a very long and tedious work with meticulous planning and preparation. Such efforts must not just rejoice us of the fact that we are reversing a trend of extinction but also remind us just how difficult it is to reverse this trend and bringing back species from the brink of extinction and pledge that doing every effort to save a species be not only the work of a few among us but a commitment that each and every one should take to correct the mistakes that has been done before and not to repeat them.
In the end , the major actors for this work needs to be acknowledge on behalf of the present and future generations of our planet, and we remain grateful and extend our gratitude to the Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security, Republic of Mauritius, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust for yet another milestone reached.