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The Wildlife Sanctuary on Europa Island

 

 

Despite carrying the name Europa Island, this island is not close to Europe at all, but instead to Madagascar and Mozambique. The island is an atoll, and the main attraction is the wildlife in its woods.

In 1987, the island was claimed by France and it has remained under French rule ever since. Europa Island is flat and covered with heavy woods that house various species of animals and plants. The richness of the wildlife living here converted the island into a natural sanctuary. On the island you will also find a military garrison and a weather station.

The best way to take in the views of the island is by flying over the Mozambique Channel. If the pilot of the plane can fly low enough, you can even take some amazing pictures.

Interesting facts about the name of Europa Island is that the island is often mistaken with Bassas da India even though there are no practical similarities between the two. The name Europa was given to the island by the ship that discovered the island for the first time. Since 1774, when that event took place, there were some attempts at colonizing the island but they all ended in failure. Two French brothers came here in 1860 and brought some animals with them. Some of the animals left behind when the settlers left the island, adapted to the island’s conditions and you can still spot some goats on its surface.

After claiming the island, in 1897, France offered concessions to different entrepreneurs in hopes that the island would develop. A few years later, a colony was established here and they continued to live here for some time. Some of their tombs are still visible in the cemetery of the island.

Nowadays, there is only a small garrison here and a weather station that is often visited by scientific teams. The small cemetery is still maintained by the military personnel guarding the island.

The island is hardly a destination for tourists, but it is an important natural reserve where many animals and birds live. One of the most important natural spectacles that happens here yearly, from November until March, is the laying of eggs done by the marine tortoise. Thousands of females of the species come to the shore in order to lay eggs, and it is thought that on Europa Island a large population of tortoises are born each year.

If you want to reach the island, you can use the unpaved airstrip to land your plane. You will have to use your own plane as regular flights do not come through here. If you are on a ship, you can only anchor offshore as there are no harbors or ports on the island. In terms of tourist amenities, there are no hotels or shops here.

 



 

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