In 1987 the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation obtained the lease for the much degraded and weed invaded Ile aux Aigrettes with the aim of restoring this unique habitat to a condition as near as possible to what it was 400 years ago when man first arrived in Mauritius.
after much effort, this dream is starting to become reality. The island
has become a showcase for the work undertaken by MWF and is, today, a sanctuary
of animal and plant species unique to Mauritius and found nowhere else in
the world, an adventure of discovery of what Mauritius was like before man
Coupled to this is the setting, the spectacular Mahebourg Bay, rich in the early human history of Mauritius which became the meeting points of the Great Spice Route, the slave route and the indentured labour route.
In 1995, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation adopted the following objective:
Promote ecotourism, as a means to raise public awareness, generate income and employment and to contribute towards the sustainable development of Mauritius and Rodrigues.
Ile aux Aigrettes was the obvious place where ecotourism
should be developed. Thus, infrastructure was created, a circuit opened,
and the island opened to tourists in 1997. An Ecotourism Strategy and Action
Plan for Ile aux Aigrettes was prepared setting the guidelines for tourism
development on the island with the aim to develop it as a high quality and
unique "visitor experience", an ecotourism destination of international
repute while respecting the conservation and social objectives of the Foundation.
The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation adheres very closely to the international principles of ecotourism. All buildings and infrastructure have been built on existing World War II buildings, paths have been opened with minimal damage to the native flora, information boards are placed along the circuit, and all tours are accompanied by a Mauritian Wildlife Foundation professional guide.
The main objective of the tour is to help finance the Ile aux Aigrettes restoration programme and raise awareness about the conservation work undertaken by the Foundation. We also aim to show that biodiversity conservation need not be an exclusion activity but can and should, conditions permitting, lead to employment, educational and recreational opportunities for the betterment of local communities through, amongst other activities, responsible and sustainable tourism.