The Dodo (Endemic Bird of Mauritius)

One of the emblematic birds representing Mauritius is the Dodo, with Mauritius sometimes being referred to as ‘Dodoland’.

Unfortunately it has become extinct but it remains an important symbol of the island. The Dodo (Raphus cucullatus) was a bird that was endemic to our island. The Dodos are believed to be descendents of a type of pigeon which lived on the island some 4 million years ago. The dodo's closest genetic relative was the Rodrigues solitaire which has also become extinct for years now.

The Dodo is referred to as a bird but it was a unique type of bird as it could not fly. They lived on land and ate fruits that had fallen from trees. Subfossil remains show that the dodo was about 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) tall and may have weighed 10.6–17.5 kg (23–39 lb) in the wild. Evidence of the appearance of the dodo can be found only by drawings, paintings, and written accounts from the 17th century. 

As seen in Mauritian history the island has been visited in the early years by the Arabs, Portuguese, and the Dutch. It is believed that the dodo was a source of fresh meat for the sailors who stopped by the island. Later, when the Dutch settled on the island, other mammals such as pigs and monkeys were brought to the island. Many of the ships that came to Mauritius at that time transported rats on board. The rats, pigs and monkeys which settled on the island started eating dodo eggs in the ground nests.

Therefore the combination of human exploitation and new living species which came on the island significantly reduced the dodo population. Within 100 years of the arrival of humans in Mauritius, the dodo became a rare bird.

The last one was killed in 1681.