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Mauritiana
Amber Island - Île d'Ambre
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Introduction

 
Ile D'Ambre
A rocky beach on Ile D'Ambre

 

Found inside the lagoon off the north east coast of Mauritius, Ile D'Ambre is about 140 hectares in total area. Its nearest point is only about 400 metres from the coast line. The island is under the responsibility of the Forestry Services of the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Resources.

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Coastline

Much of the coastline of l'ile d'Ambre is surrounded by mangrove trees or rocks. There practically are no sandy beaches, except on ilot Bernache which is very close to ile d'Ambre and can be considered to be part of it.

The Mangrove on this island is doing well and new seedlings canbe seen growing out of the sand.

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Fauna and Flora

Before the arrival of man, a number of native palm species and a lowland endemic forest were present on the island. Subsequently, a commercial forest plantation consisting of Tecoma and Pine trees was established on the island.

In the north east a very small colony of ten endemic palm trees ( Latania loddigessii) still exists but there appears to be no regeneration.


Latania loddigessii, Palmae

In certain parts of the island, outgrowth of Aloe plants, Furcraea foetida is a threat to the forest floor as it is to the few remaining stretches of lowland forests on the main land.

The bird life consists of five different species of which one is endemic, the Grey White Eye.

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It is surprising to note that there is a very good population of butterflies on the island, some of which are endemic.

The following table lists the species of butterflies found on the island.
 
Scientific name
 
1 Euploea euphon Indigenous
2 Amauris phoedon Endemic
3 Papilio manlius Endemic
4 Henotesia narcissus Indigenous
5 Catopsilia thauruma Indigenous
6 Neptis frobenia Endemic

No scientific study of these butterflies has been done yet with respect to population dynamics, diversity or ecological importance.

There is the potential danger of fire breakouts wiping out the butterflies population. The undergrowth of the island must be managed to ensure survival of the species.

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Interesting Features

On the island, there are a few interesting features like a small and old stone building most probably erected when the island was French, an inland salt lake and a marshy salt pond.


The Marshy Salt Pond

Pte Bernache

Pointe Bernache or also known as Ilot Bernache is part of Ile D'Ambre. This very small island, less than 2 acres in size, is a stone's throw off the main body of Ile D'Ambre.

It is in a highly degraded state and the flora that survives consists of a few casuarina trees and some species of grass and shrubs.



A beach on Ilot Bernache

There are one or two beautiful stretches of sandy beaches and it is often visited by tourists for the day. The rest of the island's beaches are made up of rocks and boulders.

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The Biodiversity and Environment Institute

The Biodiversity and Environment Institute has received funds from the United Nations Development Fund for the rehabilitation of this island. The programme is underway.

The programme consists of the following projects:

  1. A data bank on the ecology of the island.
  2. Population studies to ascertain growth and regeneration of species.
  3. Socio-cultural surveys of the utilisation of the area by the local population
  4. Impact Assessment Studies related to tourism to develop a strategy for eco tourism.
  5. Sustainable cropping of wild fruits, wood for handicraft, fodder and plant materials.
  6. Training programmes for local residents and students in the sustainable use of the islets.

Bibliography

  1. Sooknah, K. , A Project Proposal Paper to UNDP for GEF, Biodiversity and Environment Institute, 1997
  2. Conservation Unit and Press Service, Ile D'Ambre, The Main Features, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Natural Resources, 1988.

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