Located approximately 370 miles off the northeast coast of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, Rodrigues Island boasts to be the most authentic of the Mascarene Island. The population derives a living mainly from fishing, local crafts, agriculture, livestock farming and tourism.
Completely surrounded by a coral reef, the island of 108km square is mainly visited for hiking, kitesurfing, snorkelling and deep-sea fishing among other activities.
Rodrigues is known for its authenticity which makes it the anti-stress island par excellence. Travellers longing for a Robinson Crusoe -like adventure or to experience slow travel find their happiness in Rodrigues.
Different from other Mascarene islands, both in terms of population and size, Rodrigues positioned itself as an ecological destination.
Taking a more sustainable path
Since 2014, the island has banned the use of plastic bags in an effort to protect both its marine and terrestrial biodiversity.
Further to this and with the population welcoming the decision positively, the island has taken the decision four years later to ban single-use polystyrene food containers. Another measure that was well acclaimed both by the local population and worldwide. These efforts are nowadays combined with other initiatives to protect the environment.
In addition, the setting up of reserves around the island has also contributed to the conversation of the plants and animals endemic to the islands.
The most important one is the Grande Montagne Nature Reserve. Situated in the centre of the island, the reserves are homes to the indigenous fauna and flora of the island. Endemics plants such as the ‘café maron’ or the ‘bois blan’ are species that need constant monitoring from the NGO. As for the bird enthusiasts, the Rodriguan Warbler and Rodriguan Fody are species only found on the island.
On the west part of the island, the Francois Leguat Giant Tortoises Reserve and Cave helps in the rehabilitation of tortoises, the riadata and Aldabra species.
Since 2006 Within the 20 hectares, the reserve has constantly been working for the conversation and has now more than 5,000 tortoises present on site.
In the meantime, another reserve - ‘Ile aux Cocos’ - serves as a protected habitat for the seabirds. Through guided tours, visitors are informed about the preservation efforts of the destination. In addition, a sponsorship campaign for the little reptiles is also available at the reserve.
These efforts reach another step during the COVID-19 crisis. Closed from the world with no incoming tourists, the sector was slowly collapsing.
However, with the resilience of the local government, the different staff from the tourism sectors ranging from the maid to the manager all contributed to safeguarding the environment in Rodrigues.
While some were cleaning hiking paths or working on the restoration of the islet, others were busy supporting the efforts for conversation in the different natural reserves of the island.
The tourists played an important role in the preservation of the environment under the Tourism Livelihood Scheme, which had an immediate positive impact on the Island.
Focused on its continued pursuit of an ecological and sustainable path, Rodrigues Island envisages launching the ‘One Tree, One Tourist and One Child’ project in 2023.
The idea is that for every traveller coming to the island, one tree is planted that is nurtured by the local children. This initiative serves as a blueprint for both tourists and locals to be more involved in the protection and conservation of the environment of Rodrigues while generation after generation, the ecological mindset of the locals will continue to thrive.