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Round Island - A Success Story

Case Study: Round Island- A Success Story

Source : Principles and Practice of Plant Conservation
by David R. Given
0-88192-249-8, 292 pp, 16 b/w photos, 4 tables,
7 3/8 x 10 3/8", hardcover,
1994 Timber Press

Round Island, a 151-hectare nature reserve about 20 kilometers off the northern coast of Mauritius, is of exceptional biological importance. It supports the last remnant of a palm savanna that was once characteristic of the northern plain of Mauritius, but which is now extinct there; it is one of the few remaining rat-free tropical islands of the world; it is an important breeding site for seabirds and supports eight species of native reptile; and it is said to support more threatened plant and animal forms than any comparable area on earth (one bird, six reptiles, nine plants).

Until recently, Round Island was threatened by introduced rabbits and goats released in the nineteenth century. Much of the island's soil had been lost through erosion following the introduction of the feral animals. The goats were removed in the 1970s, but rabbits were more difficult to eradicate. By the early 1980s, the situation was critical. In 1986 three scientists were sponsored by the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust to spend two months on the island and poison the rabbits. The following year a follow-up for one month showed that the rabbit eradication program had been successful. Aided by an unusually wet season, vegetation recovery has been rapid. Herbs, grasses, and creepers had colonized many bare sites by mid-1987, and many palms were seeding, including over 80 rare bottle palms ( Hyophorbe amaricaulis ).

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Two weeds that could cause future problems were eradicated at the time of the second visit. The sites where these grew were marked to allow future checking. Many hundreds of seeds have been collected for help in revegetation, as well as samples of long-dead wood to help gain an idea of the previous vegetation cover.

Unglamorous as it was, the removal of rabbits from Round Island is a highly significant conservation achievement that will greatly aid the survival of some of the world's most endangered species.

Photo by Don Merton, © 1998. All rights reserved
Round Island Palm

The management plan for the next 10 years envisages three brief visits to the island each year to carry out a range of monitoring and restorative operations. Of five available options, the favored approach is to eradicate weeds, allow species recovery and reestablishment, but also to introduce carefully selected species of critically endangered animals and plants from Mauritius. Sources: Merton et al. 1989.

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Round Island - Île Ronde

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Success Story
Les scientifiques s'installent à l'île Ronde
L'Ile Ronde sous surveillance écologique

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Main Index

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Table of Content


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Le Souffleur
Grand Port


Amber Island
Gunners'Coin -
Coin de Mire
Round Island


Round Island Day Gecko(Phelsuma guentheri)


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The Wild Ones Animal Index
Endangered Species Recovery Council
The Mauritius Wildlife Foundation
UN System-Wide Earthwatch Web Site
Wildlife Preservation Trust Canada
School of Biological Sciences University of Bristol
Natural Environment Research Council
Amphibian Reptile & Insect Association
Timber Press: Books on Gardening and Horticultures
The Biodiversity Convention and Kew
Virtual Museum of Natural History : Phelsuma guentheri
Day Geckos : Phelsuma guntheri
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