is widely recognized that the resources of Mauritius have been exploited
and modified by humans to such an extent over the last 350 years that very
little remains in any semblance of its natural condition. The area of natural
vegetation is now extremely small and most of the native animals are either
extinct or highly endangered.
The fact that this is a small,
relatively isolated island has meant that its native plants and animals
have evolved into unique and fascinating forms and species. These must
have existed in large numbers and, before human settlement, they faced
a very limited range of predators and threats.
But, subsequently, most of
the native forest has been cleared for plantation, commercial forestry
and other intensive uses. Small pockets of native forest remain, particuliarly
in the Bel Ombre-Macabe area, the Black River Gorges - which is now the
National Park on the island, and some mountain reserves.