THE island of Mauritius was once a haven for the endemic dodo birds (Raphus cucullatus).

But this ended when the Dutch sail­ors landed on its shores in 1598. They found the birds easy to catch as they were unafraid of their two-legged visi­tors. In less than 100 years, these birds were believed to be eaten to extinction by the Dutch settlers.

But there was another important factor which contributed to the cause of its eventual extinction, i.e. the presence of invasive animals like pigs, cats and rats that were brought in by the Dutch visitors.

The dodos were known to be short and clumsy; flightless and defenceless. They quickly became a target by these animals. Moreover, pigs, dogs and rats are all animals said to have developed a taste for dodo eggs.

Adding to the problem was that a dodo bird could only lay one egg per season. Hence, combined with humans hunting and eating them, this rapidly reduced the population of dodos till it finally faded from existence.