Mauritius – Not Only Stamps

“You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.” Mark Twain, “Following the equator” 1897.

Mauritius is a small island in the Indian Ocean more than 500 miles east of a much larger island, Madagascar, which is located off the southeast coast of the African continent

Mauritius has a surface of about 1865 km2 (720 square miles), is 65 km long and 48 km wide with a total shore length of 330 km. The highest point is at 828 meters

The music of Mauritius, the Sega Dance (pronounced Saygah)

The Sega is a dance which originated from the ritual music of Madagascar and the mainland of Africa, and it is the Musical Expression of the Mauritian Way of Life: Joy, Carefree and Lively. Originally sung by men and women who had been sold as slaves but whose souls had remained sensitive to music, the Sega is nowadays a folksong which has integrated itself within the framework of our folklore. It is a cry from the soul trying to transcend the miseries and heartaches of life, while at the same time expressing the universal human desire for joy and happiness. It tells the joys and sorrows of the peasants and the fishing folks. It is a nostalgic heritage of the villagers. Its beats, gripping in intensity, now provide entertainment to Mauritians of all walks of life in towns and villages. Today the Sega and its beat are a part of every Mauritian’s life

The Mauritius Pink Pigeon (Pigeon des Mares – Nesoenas mayeri)

Found in four sub-populations in remote, forested or mountainous regions of south-western Mauritius. Estimated population down to 20 known wild birds in the early 1970s, the wild population now estimated at over 360 individuals.

The Pink Pigeon (Nesoerias mayeri) is a native of the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It is one of the rarest birds in the world with a population of only 15 in the wild. Without help from the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust (JWPT) it would soon have been totally extinct. The JWPT was established in 1963 by the eminent zoologist and author Gerald Durrell. It is devoted to the concept of captive breeding of endangered species as an aid to their survival in the wild. In 1984 Gerald Durrell released the first 11 of 150 captive bred Pink Pigeons into the Pamplemousse Botanical Gardens in Mauritius as the first step of a major re-introduction programme to save the species.

The success to date of the recovery project for the Mauritius pink pigeon is a good example of how intensive management techniques can bring a species back from the brink of extinction.

The Mauritius Turf Club

In 1812, Colonel Draper founded the Mauritius Turf Club, which opened the first racecourse in the southern hemisphere and the second in the world. Today, the Champ de Mars is world renowned for its magnificent race track which is almost circular in shape, allowing punters wherever they are situated within the centre area or in the stands to watch every moment of the racing action. Every year, horses are imported from all parts of the world, namely from South Africa, England and Australia, and allocated to the various stables. Jockeys come from all parts of the world. Many of the well known Australian jockeys have had a stint in Mauritius. Betting is now based on the Australian betting systems, with a flourishing bookmakers’ industry.

Every year, the Draper’s Mile is run to commemorate the founder of the Mauritius Turf Club. The racing season starts from May until December. Currently, works are being undertaken on a state-of-the-art racecourse at Les Pailles. Punters will really enjoy the atmosphere of the Champ de Mars, with its unique blend of catering facilities reflecting the diversity of the Mauritian Community.

The Dodo bird

The dodo or dronte (scientific name Raphus cucullatus) was a flightless bird native only to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. The dodo was a flightless member of the pigeon family. Fully grown dodos weighted about 23 kg (50 pounds). Around 1505 the Portuguese became the first Europeans to discover the dodo. By 1681 it had been driven to extinction by humans and the feral dogs, pigs, rats, and monkeys introduced by Europeans to Mauritius. The dodo was not the only Mauritian bird driven to extinction in recent centuries. Of the 45 bird species originally found, only 21 still survive. Two bird species closely related to the dodo also became extinct: the Reunion solitaire by 1746, and the Rodrigues solitaire by 1790. Reports of sightings of living dodos in the 1990s on Mauritius prompted William J. Gibbons to mount expeditions to search for them. None were found.

Kreol Morisyen, the Language of Mauritius

The tiny island of Mauritius has been called a “melting pot” and its linguistic situation is very complex. While English is the official language of parliament, traffic regulations, and school administration, it is spoken by only 3% of the population. French is the native language of Franco-mauritians and is used by the mass media. Eighty percent of the newspapers are written in French, which also dominates the advertising field. Mauritian Creole, or MC, is the national language and is spoken by the majority of Mauritians. Nearly the entire population knows and uses MC for communication.

The majority of MC words are of French origin, although more than 150 are derived from English, more than 50 from Indian languages, and several from Malagasy and Chinese.

Like many French-lexicon creoles, MC words often incorporate the article as part of the form of the word. For example: “liver” (winter), derives from the French “l’hiver”, and “dilo” (water) from “de l’eau”.