22 December 2020

We’ve been working with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) to prevent the extinction of endemic species on Mauritius and Rodrigues for many years. An important part of this work is supporting the development of education programmes that encourage people to value and protect the species we’re working together to save.

Our Exhibitions and Interpretation team worked with MWF to develop a new exhibition and signage scheme at the Grande Montagne Nature Reserve.

The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation have been involved in the restoration of the Grande Montagne Nature Reserve since 1996. They restore the forest by removing large numbers of invasive plant species and planting native species, aiming to recreate the forest ecosystem that supports precious endemic wildlife, such as the Rodrigues fruit bat and Rodrigues fody.

Fruit Bat Forest | Walkthrough

Ecotourism in the area not only provides valuable income to support conservation work, it is also a great opportunity to educate people about the threats that many native Rodrigues animal and plant species face and the role we can all play in preventing their extinction. The MWF education team also provide tours of the Nature Reserve for local school and community groups, providing opportunities for locals to connect with and learn about the wildlife on their doorstep. 

The Information Centre is the starting and finishing point for all guided walks into the Nature Reserve. In 2018, Exhibitions and Interpretation Manager, Victoria, travelled to Rodrigues to learn more about the restoration of the Grande Montagne Nature Reserve and explore how she could use her exhibition making expertise to make the Information Centre and Nature Reserve experience more inspiring and informative for all of the tourists and locals who pass through it. During her visit she worked closely with the MWF team to look at what worked and what didn’t, identify the story that needed to be told and how that could mapped through the Information Centre and into the Nature Reserve in a way that would have the most impact for visitors. The overall aim being to ensure that everyone who visits learns something new about the wildlife of Rodrigues, the threats it faces and what they can do to help.

When she returned to the UK, Victoria and MWF team continued to collaborate on text writing and sourcing images, and our Learning Designer, Charlotte, worked with them to develop the graphic approach. The final exhibition panels were then printed in Rodrigues and were finally installed in early 2020.

The exhibition was officially inaugurated as part of a ceremony hosted on the International Day of Biological Diversity in May 2020. After a visit from local students, who planted several native trees in the Nature Reserve, the formal event also involved the signing of an updated Memorandum of Understanding between MWF Rodrigues and the Rodrigues Regional Assembly (RRA) Commission responsible for the Environment and Forestry. The document was officially signed by the RRA’s Departmental Head for Environment, Mr Ah Leong Chang Siow and the MWF Rodrigues Manager, Mr Reshad Jhangeer-Khan, in front of some 40 guests and members of the local press. It formalises the joint MWF and RRA agreement to conserve biodiversity in Rodrigues. We hope that the new signage scheme in the Information Centre and across the Nature Reserve will play a crucial role in educating the people who see it and enabling them to support this important work

The Commissioner and Departmental Head of Commission for Environment revealing the new signs at the visitor centre in Rodrigues

With the display signage fully upgraded in both the Dominique Farla Information Centre and the Grande Montagne Nature Reserve, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation is now perfectly empowered to educate visiting students and raise awareness amongst ecotourists of the importance of conserving biodiversity, while generating green income to sustainably finance conservation actions in the Reserve.

Victoria, Exhibitions & Interpretation Manager, Chester Zoo

MAURITIUS FRUIT BAT PROJECT

Conservationists at the zoo have been working with partners in Mauritius to tackle the issues of human-wildlife conflict between local fruit-growers and fruit bats. 

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