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Humans, plants and animals share the same history

Unique fauna in a biodiverse kingdom

With a geological age of under four million years, and colonised barely four centuries ago, the island offers the world a unique spectacle.

  • Underwater, the coral reef, although very young, is teeming with life. It takes only a few years for corals and fish to colonise the lava flows that reach the sea.
  • On land, birds, butterflies and lizards show how imaginative life can be when forced to adapt to new conditions: the Reunion grey white-eye (Zosterops borbonicus) is said to be mutating into several subspecies.

Today, passionate volunteers and professional scientists are still discovering, or rediscovering, new species of plants and animals. The fauna of Reunion Island is definitely unique. The island has no dangerous or poisonous animals.

Island birds

Borne by the winds, birds took up residence on Reunion Island long before the first sailor spotted the island’s shores from his ship.

About 20 indigenous species (including six endemic ones) still live in the skies above Reunion Island. Some species have withstood human predation well: Barau’s petrel, which finds its food at sea but takes refuge on the Piton des Neiges 2,700–2,900m above sea level, and Audubon’s shearwater, whose song breaks the nocturnal silence around the cirques.

On Reunion Island

New species are sometimes discovered

Symphysanodon pitondelafournaisei

This beautiful, 15cm-long fish lives in open water above the seabed at around 400–500m. A similar species was discovered under the same conditions after a volcano sunk into the sea in Hawaii.


Neocentropogon barrieri

Discovered in 2007, this small scorpion fish, less than 10cm long, lives at depths of 200–500m, where it hunts for crustaceans and other small fish.

Cossonus sp.

This new weevil species, about 5mm long, is found in forest soils at the Plaine des Fougères de Sainte-Marie, at an altitude of 1,400m.


Chromis durvillei

Discovered after the lava flows of 2007, this beautiful 9cm-long damselfish is distinguished from its reef ‘cousins’ by its large eyes, which are better adapted to the low light of its biotope, in rocks at 200m below sea level.


Dryophtorus sp.

This tiny beetle, just over 2mm long, with its very rustic appearance, is still being described. It was discovered in 2008 in soil at Takamaka, at an altitude of over 1200m.


Alpheus sp.

This beautiful little pistol shrimp, about 3cm long, has been spotted on the west coast.
It lives in a burrow alongside a goby, with whom it maintains constant contact using its antennae.


Calidris melanotos

The pectoral sandpiper was first observed on Reunion Island in January 2008. It is a migratory shorebird that nests in the Northern Hemisphere beyond the Arctic Circle.

Syzygops lemagneni (femelle)

This small weevil measuring 4–5mm long is found on tree ferns at an altitude of over 1,000m, on the Plaine des Fougères de Sainte-Marie.

Fauna present all over the island

You may observe an astonishing array of fauna in the course of your walks.
It is estimated that there are around 5,000 insect species, only 2,000 of which are truly known. There are also more than 500 spider species, 54 molluscs, 21 freshwater fish and nine species of crustaceans.
Carried by the winds or waves, flora and fauna settled here, then either became fully established or transformed into original new species, endemic to Réunion. You will have plenty of time to observe the unique fauna hiding on the island, such as the Reunion Island ornate day gecko or the Reunion cuckooshrike, a small forest bird that may decide to accompany you on your hikes.

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There is still a lot to discover