A living laboratory of evolution
The richness and fragility of the Réunionese ecosystemScroll
On land : birds, butterflies and lizards demonstrate just how resourceful nature can be when forced to adapt to new conditions. The ‘zoizo blanc’ for example, (Zosterops borbonicus or Reunion White-eye) is said to be currently mutating into several sub-species.
Bird were certainly the island’s first inhabitants. Carried by the wind, they picked Réunion as their home far before the first sailors caught sight of the island’s coastline. Today there are around 20 indigenous species (including six only found on the island) still living in the Réunionese skies. Many species have become extinct over the last few centuries, although several species have been able to avoid being wiped out by Man. The Barau’s Petrel hunts its food in the sea, but comes home to roost on the Piton des Neiges, between 2,700m and 2,900m high, and the Audubon Puffin, whose call breaks the night’s silence on the cirques’ slopes.
The most fascinating Réunionese wildlife can be found with the birds and the tropical fish. The Réunionese wildlife developed over the centuries thanks to diverse animals being brought over from Asia, Africa and Madagascar. Some animals flew over, including birds, bats and butterflies. Others were blown by the sea winds and cyclones to finally arrive on the island.