Mauritius: Saving the Round Island hurricane palm

Mauritius: Saving the Round Island hurricane palm

Saving the Round Island hurricane palm by increasing population numbers and restoring lowland dry palm forest in Mauritius

Partner: Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT)
Years: 2020-2023

With only one mature individual surviving in the wild, the project aims to increase the global population of Dictyosperma album var. conjugatum to less critical levels, to understand the purity and genetic composition of possible specimens surviving in cultivation and to create areas of restored lowland dry palm forest, absent on Mauritius for 200 years.

The project will obtain the first verified pure seeds of Dictyosperma album var. conjugatum for the last 25 years, through pollen storage and hand-pollination. The project will thus increase the known world population from one mature individual to at least 50 plants. All other potential specimens in cultivation on Mauritius will be genetically tested to examine their relatedness, and to identify hybrids. A genetic management strategy will be developed, in consultation with partners, in order to optimize the purity and genetic diversity of the population.

In addition one hectare of high-quality Mauritian lowland dry forest will be restored on Round Island through planting of canopy and understory species, including 700 trees of four other threatened Mascarene endemics. This habitat will represent the most intact example of its type in existence for over 200 years. By the project end, at least 30 Dictyosperma individuals will be established on Round Island, with a further 20 under secure cultivated management for future propagation efforts.