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Lost Land of the Dodo: The Ecological History of Mauritius, Réunion, and Rodrigues

Lost Land of the Dodo: The Ecological History of Mauritius, Réunion, and Rodrigu
Anthony Cheke and Julian Hume
Yale University Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 464 pp., $55.00

This volume concerns the incredible story of human-caused extinction of species in the fragile environment that was the haunt of a diversity of animals and plants on isolated islands east of Africa. Located in the Indian Ocean, the Mascarene Islands of Mauritius, Réunion, and Rodrigues quickly became threatened habitats when they were discovered in the sixteenth century by the Dutch. As the authors note, within a few decades, the docile, flightless Dodo was wiped out; its demise became a symbol for complete destruction of a living thing. Beginning with the geography of these islands of volcanic origin, the narrative then reports on their colonization by plants and animals before the coming of mariners. European settlers carefully documented the obliteration of native species over the years so readers may learn from this complex ecological history. Though essentially a heavily illustrated case study of remote environments, the book provides the reader with insight into the many damaging factors that can affect a specific environment and the ultimate need for worldwide conservation.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden