Why Ebony Forest is a must-see for nature lovers?

A few reasons we think you might enjoy visiting us.

• One of the best preserved native forests

• Key Biodiversity Area

• Important Bird Area

• Protected Endemic Sanctuary

• 6 of 9 endemic birds can be seen at Ebony Forest

• Proceeds from your visit support the conservation work

• You can also make a difference by donating or getting involved in restoration activities

Why we are committed
to conservation?

Less than 2% of native forest remains

• Humans are the culprits: poaching, logging, introduction of exotic species, pollution

• Without action, many more plants, birds, reptiles, snails and insects will go extinct. We won’t sit back and let this happen.

• Forests breathe life and a greener planet is essential to limit the impact of climate change.

1773

1835

1872

1935

TODAY

Our conservation actions

Hibiscus - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Flora conservation

It’s very simple, but requires long-term commitment, and a great team. This is what we do:

• Weed: remove exotic (non-native) plants

• Propagate native and endemic plants from seeds, seedlings and cuttings in our plant nursery

• Plant

• Weed again: most exotic plants grow faster and so we must continually weed to ensure our native plants survive and can shade out the light-loving exotics

• Monitor our restoration sites

• Exclude deer and pigs as these introduced grazers damage the flora

• Raise awareness through our tours, school education programmes, eco-volunteers and team-building activities, as well as with the private sector

Fauna conservation

Habitat loss has had a major impact on most of the island’s unique and endemic invertebrates, birds, reptiles and only mammals, the bats. This is what we do:

• Reintroduce locally extinct species

• Provide nest boxes for species such as the Mauritius Kestrel and Echo Parakeet

• Supplementary feed birds as there is not yet enough food in the forest

• Rewild with Aldabra giant tortoises

• Captive breed snails

• Restore their habitat by weeding and planting native and endemic plants

• Raise awareness through our tours and engagement with schools and private sector

Bat - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Our wow species

So many species deserve to be on this page, but we would need a whole website just to honour them. Here’s a few of our favourites

Conservation status

The conservation status of a species describes whether it is at risk of extinction. Its status is dependent on many factors such as the number of individuals remaining, breeding success rates, known threats and whether the population is increasing or decreasing.

 

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species lists species into the following categories. Species described as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable are considered threatened in the wild and are conservation priorities. Mauritius has an exceptionally high number of plants and animals that are likely to go extinct in the near future, unless drastic conservation measures are taken.

LEAST
CONCERN (LC)

NEAR
THREATENED (NT)

VULNERABLE
(VU)

ENDANGERED
(EN)

CRITICALLY
ENDANGERED (CR)

EXTINCT IN
THE WILD (EW)

EXTINCT
(EX)

Flora

The most threatened island flora in the world

While oceanic islands such as Mauritius have fewer species than continental areas such as Africa, they tend to have a higher percentage of endemic species, unique to the place and found nowhere else. There are more than 690 species of flowering plants, of which 273 are endemic to Mauritius. In comparison, only 47 species of flowering plant are endemic to the British Isles.

More than half of native Mauritian plants are threatened with extinction or are already extinct. Some 50 species are known from less than 10 individuals in the wild. Less than 2% of the original forests remain. Mauritius has the most threatened island flora per island area in the world. Here at Ebony Forest we have found more than 145 native species.

Mauritian Black Ebony - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Mauritian Black Ebony

Common name: Mauritian Black Ebony
Scientific name: Diospyros tessellaria
Tree height: <10 m
Did you know? The hardwood of this species makes it one of the most valuable woods in the world. Mauritius once had 12 endemic species of ebony, each with its own habitat preference, bark colouration, leaf and flower shape.
Flowering and fruiting: the forest is filled with a sweet fragrance of flowers between March and June. The Fruit Bats love feasting on the fruits and are important seed dispersers.
Conservation status: Vulnerable
Conservation actions needed: habitat restoration.

Trochetia - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Trochetia

Common name: Trochetia or local name Boucle D’oreille
Scientific name: Trochetia boutoniana
Tree height: <4 m
Did you know? Trochetia is the country’s national flower, known locally as Boucle D’Oreille (French for earring) due to the shape of the flower. The only wild population is known from Le Morne Brabant.
Flowering and fruiting: The flowers, seen between June and October, are commonly pollinated by the endemic Phelsuma geckos.
Conservation status: Critically Endangered
Conservation actions needed: habitat restoration, establishment of new populations

Coral Tree - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Mauritian Coral tree

Common name: Mauritian Coral tree or bois corail
Scientific name: Chassalia boryana
Tree height: 2-3 m
Did you know? In 2010 there were less than 10 individuals in the world. 4 cuttings were flown to Kew Gardens (UK) in 2010. Today, we have discovered more than 20 plants, thanks to weeding. Ebony Forest has the largest known population of this rare species.
Flowering and fruiting: December – March.
Conservation status: Critically Endangered
Conservation actions needed: habitat restoration, establishment of new populations, repatriation of population from Kew Gardens to Mauritius.

Bois Tambour - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Bois tambour

Scientific name: Tambourissa quadrifida, T. amplifolia, T. peltata
Tree height: <8 m
Did you know? The fruit gives the tree its Creole name, pot sam zacot, or monkey’s chamber pot. When ripe, the walls of the fruit disgorge the black seeds covered in bright orange flesh.
Flowering and fruiting: September – May
Conservation status: Endangered and Critically Endangered (T. quadrifida)
Conservation actions needed: habitat restoration.

Vacoas - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Vacoas

Common name: Screw-pines or Vacoas
Scientific name: Pandanus macrostigma
Tree height: <8 m
Did you know? There are 20 species of vacoas in Mauritius. This species was believed extinct until it was rediscovered in 2004 in Vallée de Ferney. A population was rediscovered at Ebony Forest in 2007. We have propagated more than 1000 plants.
Flowering and fruiting: November – February
Conservation status: Critically Endangered
Conservation actions needed: habitat restoration, planting

Fauna

Birds and reptiles dominate the fauna of Mauritius as they were able to colonise this volcanic island by flying, floating or drifting on natural rafts of vegetation. Bats were the only mammal to be able to cross the vast seas. The ancestors of many Mauritian species arrived from Southeast Asia, some 5700 km to the northwest. They colonised Mauritius by island-hopping during lower sea levels when many more islands were exposed.

 

Mauritian forests were once a cacophony of sounds. Dodos squawking, Broad-billed parrots screeching, Mauritian Wood Pigeon coo-cooing and giant tortoises grunting. In less than 400 years of human occupation, the unique flora and fauna of Mauritius has been devastated. Forests are relatively silent. Habitat destruction, invasive predators and competitors, disease and hunting are to blame.

A few facts:

• Of 27 known species of native land bird, 16 are extinct.

• Of the 17 known species of reptile, 5 are extinct.

• Of the 3 species of fruit bat, only the Mauritian fruit bat survives.

• Of 125 known species of land snail, 43 are extinct.

 

The remaining native and endemic species are even more precious. Help us save them.

Birds

Spot six of the nine endemic birds of Mauritius at Ebony Forest.
Mauritius Paradise Fly Catcher - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Mauritius Paradise Flycatcher

Common name: Mauritius Paradise Flycatcher
Scientific name: Tersiphone desolata
Size: 17 cm
Did you know? Males have a bright blue eye ring and dark head crest.
Current population estimate: unknown
Conservation status: Least concern
Conservation actions needed: habitat restoration.

Pink Pigeon - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Pink Pigeon

Common name: Pink Pigeon
Scientific name: Nesoenas mayeri
Size: 37 cm
Did you know? By the 1990s, only 9-10 individuals were known and this species nearly went extinct. In 2018, 50 Pink Pigeons were released at Ebony Forest to start a new sub-population. This helped reduce the threatened status of the bird from Endangered to Vulnerable. This reintroduction was thanks to a partnership between Ebony Forest and the Government of Mauritius (National Parks and Conservation Service), Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.
Current population estimate: c. 370 birds
Conservation status: Vulnerable
Conservation actions needed: predator and disease control, habitat restoration, supplementary feeding.

Echo Parakeet - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Echo Parakeet

Common name: Echo Parakeet
Scientific name: Psittacula eques, Psittacula krameri
Size: 36 cm
Did you know? This species is often confused with the more common introduced Indian Ring-necked or rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri). Echo parakeets nearly went extinct in the 1970s, as they were only 10-12 birds. Echo parakeets were released at Ebony Forest in 2018 (26 birds) and 2019 (24 birds).
Current population estimate: c. 700 birds
Conservation status: Endangered
Conservation actions needed: provision of nest boxes, supplementary feeding, habitat restoration, education

Mauritius Black Bulbul - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Mauritius Black Bulbul

Common name: Mauritius Black Bulbul
Scientific name: Hypsipetes olivaceus
Size: 22 cm
Did you know? These birds noisily defend their territories, making them most easily spotted during the breeding season (August to March).
Current population estimate: c. 560 birds
Conservation status: Vulnerable
Conservation actions needed: habitat restoration, education

Mauritius Kestrel - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Mauritius Kestrel

Common name: Mauritius Kestrel
Scientific name: Falco punctatus
Size: 26 cm
Did you know? Kestrels were close to extinction in the 1970s as only 4 individuals remained.
Current population estimate: 170-200 birds
Conservation status: Endangered
Conservation actions needed: provision of nest boxes

Mauritius Grey White Eye - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Mauritius Grey White-eye

Common name: Mauritius Grey White-eye or Pic-pic
Scientific name: Zosterops mauritianus
Size: 10 cm
Did you know? The name pic-pic comes from its distinctive call.
Current population estimate: unknown
Conservation status: Least Concern

Mammals

All non-flying land mammals and some bird groups such as woodpeckers and hornbills were unable to cross the large expanses of open water. Bats are the only mammals native to the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius, Rodrigues, Réunion).
Mauritius Flying Fox - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Mauritius Fruit Bat

Common name: Mauritius Fruit Bat or Flying Fox
Scientific name:
Pteropus niger
Wingspan: 80 cm
Did you know? There used to be 3 species of fruit bat in Mauritius, two are now extinct. Fruit bats are essential for healthy forests as they are important pollinators and seed dispersers of native plants. Due to a lack of intense cyclones over the last couple of decades, the fruit bat population has increased and fruit growers have persuaded the government to cull the population to reduce numbers. This is highly controversial as fruit bat populations are limited by food and habitat, owing to so little native forest remaining. Exotic birds and rats are also responsible for eating mangoes and lychees.
Conservation status: Endangered

Mauritian Tomb Bat

Common name: Mauritian Tomb Bat
Scientific name: Taphozous mauritianus
Wingspan: 10 cm
Did you know? This insectivorous microbat can be seen in urban areas, where it eats insects attracted to lights.
Conservation status: Least Concern

Mauritian Free-tailed Bat

Common name: Mauritian Free-tailed Bat
Scientific name: Mormopterus acetabulosus
Wingspan: 10 cm
Did you know? Little is known about this insectivorous cave-dwelling microbat, whose survival is believed at risk due to destruction of caves.
Conservation status: Endangered

Exotic Fauna

Oh deer!

Many species in Mauritius are often assumed to be native, when in fact they have been either deliberately or accidentally introduced to Mauritius by humans. For example, Rusa deer that have shaped much of what people think are historic Mauritian landscapes are in fact not native to Mauritius. The Dutch introduced Rusa deer from Indonesia and East Timor in 1639. Grazing by deer hinders native forest regeneration and helps spread invasive plants, such as Chinese guava. Despite this, deer are deeply engrained in Mauritian culture, even appearing on the country’s coat of arms.

 

As the native fauna declined following the arrival of humans, exotic animals and food crops were introduced to feed the growing human population; but not without consequence. Pigs, deer, cattle and goats ate the native vegetation and escaped rats multiplied into their millions. Cats and mongoose were introduced to control the rats, but preyed on the native animals instead. These introductions were directly responsible for the extinction of many Mauritian animals and plants. Exotic animals and their introduction continue to threaten the survival of many native plants and animals.

Top five worst exotic animals in Mauritius
More than 70 exotic animals have been introduced to Mauritius. And the number of new species continues to increase due to the pet trade and accidental introductions. Some of the worst culprits are mammals. Mauritius’ wildlife evolved without mammal predators and so are poorly adapted to defend themselves against predators and grazers.

Rats - Mauritius

Rat

Scientific name: Rattus sp.
Year of introduction: c. 1400
Reason for introduction: rats were accidentally introduced by escaping from ships of the Arabs, Portuguese and Dutch visiting the island.
Impact:

• Destroy native seeds and seedlings inhabiting forest regeneration
• Kill native birds by feeding on the eggs and young
• Compete with native wildlife by eating invertebrates

Did you know? The Dutch abandoned Mauritius in 1710 in part as a result of the loss of food crops due to the huge numbers of rats on the island.

Cat

Cat

Common name: Cat
Scientific name: Felis catus
Year of introduction: c. 1688
Reason for introduction: cats were introduced to Mauritius to help control the number of rats.
Impact:

• Kill native birds and reptiles

Did you know? Cats have contributed to the extinction of at least 63 animals in the world.

Long tailed macaque - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Long-tailed macaque

Common name: Long-tailed macaque
Scientific name: Macaca fascicularis
Year of introduction: c. 1606
Reason for introduction: monkeys were intentionally introduced as pets.
Impact:

• Destroy native seeds inhabiting forest regeneration
• Disperse exotic seeds
• Kill native birds by feeding on the eggs, young and adults
• Destroy some orchids and ferns
• Compete with native wildlife by eating invertebrates

Did you know? This monkey is also known as the crab-eating macaque because it eats crabs in its native Southeast Asia. Brought aboard ships as pets, some monkeys caused so much trouble, they were abandoned on islands.

Small Indian Mongoose - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Small Indian Mongoose

Scientific name: Herpestes auropunctatus
Year of introduction: 1900
Reason for introduction: introduced as biocontrol agents to control rats, which had overtaken the island.
Impact:
• Kill native birds by feeding on the eggs, young and adults
Did you know? The plural of mongoose is mongoose, not mongeese. Nine animals, all supposedly male, were selected to be introduced. The plan was for them to control the rat population without breeding. Unfortunately, the person selecting the animals could not distinguish between females and males and hence mongoose rapidly invaded!

Rusa deer

Scientific name: Cervus timorensis
Year of introduction: 1639
Reason for introduction: introduced as livestock.
Impact:
• Kill native seedlings and plants by grazing and trampling.
• Damage trees, especially saplings, when male deer rub their antlers against trunks
Did you know? Deer can swim.

Fancy seeing these creatures & plants outdoors?

 

Discover our different tours and see which one suits you best!

Small acts

of Kindness can
go a long way

CONTACT EBONY FOREST TO FIND OUT HOW TO DONATE, AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO OUR MAURITIAN WILDLIFE…