Mauritius has a wide range of animal species found nowhere upon earth. It is home to 25 species of indigenous land vertebrates. These endemic land vertebrates include mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and molluscs.
There were at least 18 native land birds of which the following 7 are now extinct, with the approximate extinction date shown in brackets: the dodo Raphus cucullatus (1662), the large parrot Lophopssittacus mauritianus (1680), the red rail Aphanapteryx bonasia (1760), the parrot bensoni (1770), the fruit pigeon or Dutch pigeon Alectruenas nitidissima (1840), the owl Otus commerson (1650) and the owl Tylosauzieri (1850).
Presently nine endemic species of birds have been reported.
The only mammals in Mauritius were bats of which there were at least 4 species: Pteropus niger (still present), Pteropus subniger (extinct), Taphozous mauritianus (still present) and Tacdanda acetabulosus (still present).
The two species of Mauritian giant tortoise Geochelone inepta and Geochelone trisseratta are now extinct. There were at least 11 species of lizard, 5 species of skink and 6 species of gecko. There were at least 2 species of snakes, the keel scaled boa Casarea dussumieri and the burying boa Bolyeria mullicannata. Both were found on Round Island until recently. The former is still relatively common but the latter was last seen in 1975. It is believed that there are 2,000 species of insects and butterflies, three of which the citrus, ficus and sailor varieties are unique to Mauritius.
National Parks and Conservation Service
The National Parks and Conservation Service (NPCS) is a governmental institution established on 9th May, 1994 under the "Wildlife and National Parks Act" of 1993.
The mission statement of NPCS is
To ensure a Sustainable Management and Restoration of Native Terrestrial Mauritian Fauna and Flora so as to retain its genetic biodiversity for future generations through in-situ and ex-situ conservation, ecosystem restoration, public awareness, promotion of ecotourism and implementation of international biodiversity agreements.
Current state of terrestrial biodiversity
Terrestrial biodiversity of Mauritius has developed a high degree of endemism by virtue of the age and isolation of the main islands of Mauritius. The high level of endemism and species diversity per unit area has resulted in the islands being identified as a centre of plant diversity by the IUCN and the inclusion of the Mascarenes in the Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands biodiversity hotspots.
This unique biodiversity has been devastated by the action of people since settlement about 400 years ago. Native forests now cover only about 1.9% of Mauritius and in Rodrigues there are no significant areas of full canopy native forest. Mauritius has been ranked by the IUCN (World Conservation Union) as having the third most endangered flora in the world. All of the remaining forests of Mauritius are threatened by the actions of invasive alien plants and animals and, although direct habitat destruction has virtually ceased in the uplands, it is still a concern in coastal areas, on islets and wetlands.