Inspiration from the island

Life after the oil spill

Last updated: 13 September 2020

The ocean is vital to our country’s prosperity, wellbeing and way of life. When the cargo ship Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef off the south east coast of Mauritius in July 2020, the local community united.

The whole country – the local people, businesses, government and NGOs – rallied together, creating floating dams to limit the spread of oil in the lagoon and initiating the clean-up. Our swift actions had a significant impact, despite the challenges of COVID-19.

There are currently no visible signs of fuel in the water but the work continues, ensuring the fine cleaning of the coastline. Today, specialist environmental firms from around the world are being supported by 60 local fishermen to continue the recovery. The spill has affected a small area of the coastline, which is currently unavailable for recreational purposes, but we won’t rest until we restore the biodiversity of our beautiful island.

Projects making a

Mauritius wildlife foundation

The cargo ship Wakashio ran aground off the south east coast of Mauritius, which affected the offshore island nature reserve of Ile aux Aigrettes. Here, the delicate eco-systems consist of some of the world’s rarest species, many found nowhere else on Earth. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, alongside the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Government of Mauritius, acted quickly to protect the ecosystem.

Rescuing wild wildlife

The team set out to move birds and tortoises from Ile aux Aigrettes to temporary enclosures on the mainland. Rare and endangered reptiles such as Bojer’s skinks, Bouton’s skinks and lesser night geckos were also rescued from the south-eastern islands and a temporary bio-secure reptile holding facility was built to carry out health checks. We’re pleased to say the birds have now been returned to Ile aux Aigrettes and the skinks made their way to Europe…

Epic journey to Jersey Zoo

Jersey Zoo in the British Channel Islands is a leader in saving species from extinction and offered to help – but it was a tough decision to remove the animals from the island and an epic task to get the threatened skinks to Europe. To save the species, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation set to work arranging a flight, which was even more difficult due to COVID-19. The reptiles arrived safely in Jersey and are being well looked after, keeping these threatened species alive.

Plant life

4000 rare and threatened nursery plants were rescued from Ile aux Aigrettes, each one loaded into plastic trays and transported to the mainland. Using three boats, 32 people helped with the transfer to the mainland where they were cared for by a horticulturist. The plants have now been returned to the island, each one sprayed with insecticide to avoid exotic species being accidentally transferred to this delicate ecosystem.

Cleaning up the island

The islanders made a huge difference in the initial clean-up operation and now specialist companies have been brought in to focus on fine cleaning. They are using pads to absorb spilt fuel from the surface of the coral, flushing fuel from the cracks in the coastline with large volumes of water and using soft brushes to gently remove oil from the rocks. Labourers have also been tasked with pruning back trees and coastal plants, so thorough cleaning can take place.

The Mauritian people have shown resilience and resolve in working together to protect the environment. The response to the fuel spill reinforces our country’s dedication to a clean and safe ocean environment for future generations.

Share on: