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Lost Land of the Dodo Museum - La Vanille Nature Park

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by Zafeerah Tarsoo (subscribe)
Your Mauritian guide!
Published August 25th 2022
Let's not sleep on our fauna

"As if God had made the innocency of so poor a creature to become such an admirable instrument for the sustention of man."
[Capitaine Richard Whitbourne, 1740 ]


In 1865, Lewis Caroll released 'Alice's Adventures in the Wonderland' where the character 'Dodo' appeared in chapters 2 and 3. Ever since its rise to fame, the sui generis bird has never been the same. It was said that the Dodo was a symbol of extinction, ending and conclusion.

A sad verdict indeed! However, as a Mauritian, I feel that there is so much more to the bird than a mere symbolism based entirely on its tragic ending. Last weekend, my curious mind got some answers during a visit to The Vanilla Nature Park of Mauritius.

Museum Entrance - 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)
Museum Entrance - 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)


In order to begin my goal in giving another perspective on its story, I will need you to visualize the bird. Think of a turkey, but bigger. In fact an article reads, "Dodos were large birds, approximately three-feet tall, with downy grey feathers and a white plume for a tail. The Dodo had tiny wings and its sternum an area with strong wing muscles for flying birds was correspondingly small. The massive birds could reach a body weight of more than 20 kilograms." Source.
Oxford University Museum of Natural History - a model and cast of a complete skeleton of the Oxford Dodo. Source: oumnh.ox.ac.uk/learn-the-oxford-dodo
Oxford University Museum of Natural History - a model and cast of a complete skeleton of the Oxford Dodo. Source: oumnh.ox.ac.uk/learn-the-oxford-dodo


At 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' in La Vanille Nature Park, you'll find Dodo bones which were discovered at the Mare aux Songes which coincided with the release of Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland launching the Dodo into world fame. Fun fact; around 99% of all Dodo bones held in institutions around the world came from the Clark excavations and the Mare aux Songes during this time!

Dodo Bones - The Lost Land of the Dodo (La Vanille Nature Park)
Dodo Bones - The Lost Land of the Dodo (La Vanille Nature Park)

Life-size illustration of a Dodo Raphus Cucullatus skeleton - The Lost Land of the Dodo (La Vanille Nature Park)
Life-size illustration of a Dodo Raphus Cucullatus skeleton - The Lost Land of the Dodo (La Vanille Nature Park)


But what is so special about this bird who merely ate and ate and became "fat and flightless, clueless and clumsy"? Probably the greatest importance of the dodo bird is showing the repercussions of human activity on the environment. The extinction of these birds was the direct consequence of humans and their actions. Once humans arrived on the island of Mauritius, it took less than 100 years for dodo birds to become extinct.

'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)
'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)

Dodo Ancient Sketches - 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)
Dodo Ancient Sketches - 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)

'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)
'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)

'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)
'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)

'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)
'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)

'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)
'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)

'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)
'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)

Dodo Statue - 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)
Dodo Statue 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)

Dodo Paintings - 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)
Dodo Paintings - 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)

Dodo Details - 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)
Dodo Details - 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)

Dodo Details - 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)
Dodo Details - 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)

Extinct Species in Mauritius - 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)
Extinct Species in Mauritius - 'The Lost Land of the Dodo' (The Vanilla Nature Park, Mauritius)

The Dodo's symbolic connection to extinction can be highlighted by intertwining it with conservation. Rather than just representing the fate of a doomed species, Dodos can also represent the hope that humanity can learn from its mistakes and preserve the biodiversity of nature!
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Why? Self-education
When: Everyday
Phone: 626 2503
Where: Savanne, Mauritius
Cost: Adult: Rs 400 ($13) Child(3-12 years old): Rs 150 ($5)
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