Oil Spill From Wakashio / Four poems

We have been overwhelmed by the offers of assistance following the dreadful news that oil was spilling from Wakashio, thank you so very much indeed. It is really useful to know what everyone is able to provide from their help to equipment and funds. We are keeping a register, will plan to keep in touch with you all and let you know where things stand and how you can help. When we know what is needed we will then call upon those of you who have said you can provide it.

Yesterday, mid morning, we were told of the oil spill and since then it has been ‘all hands to the pump’. All our Managers with projects on Ile aux Aigrettes went directly to the island and others supported from the office. We had prepared a contingency plan with three levels of alert, we went directly to Alert 3! Our main immediate concern was Ile aux Aigrettes regarding the oil fumes from the spill (its affect on humans and animals) and access to the island (would the oil spill mean we couldn’t access the island?). We evacuated visitors and then got to work with the staff remaining to implement some evacuations of plants and animals and make arrangements for those remaining in the circumstances that there would be no one on the island to take care of them. Currently we have removed critically endangered plants from the plant nursery to be taken care of on the mainland, a limited number of Olive White-eyes, Mauritius Fodies and Aldabra tortoises.

Our boat was helping lay booms yesterday to protect Ile aux Aigrettes and the mangroves on the mainland in the Ramsar site. We were also deploying absorbent pads which we had been provided with last week which absorb oil products, not water. We have been invited to some of the meetings and site visits led by the Ministry of Environment and we have made the ecotour boat, Kestrel, available for these. Our views have been requested on a number of related matters (impact on wildlife, sensitive areas, ways to protect the ecosystems), both from the Ministry of Environment and from the press.

This morning we attended a meeting to discuss how to address the oil spill and what is needed to deal with its consequences. How can all of us help? What equipment and supplies are needed along with manpower? Where do these come from? At Mauritian Wildlife we are not experts in how to deal with such an event and are on a learning curve. We understand that before a shoreline clean up can be carried out, the oil needs to be contained and as much removed mechanically as possible, which is specialist work. Help is being brought in from abroad to supplement the equipment that already exists in Mauritius. The National Parks and Conservation Service along with some animal welfare organisations and ourselves are organising to deal with any seabirds or turtles affected by oil.

The great urge for all of us is to ‘get on with it’. But currently we understand that it may be a waste of time to ‘clean up’ an area where oil may continue to flow in. What can be done is rescue any animals affected and send them for treatment. These are most likely to be seabirds or waders.

You can register to volunteer for beach clean-ups with the Beach Authority office at the Blue Bay Marine Park Centre, the contact person there being Daniel Laurent, Tel: 5259 7355.

If you would like to contribute to helping MWF actions, please contact MWF hotlines 5710 4141, 5473 0103 and 5948 9823 and let us know how you can help.

If you would like to help financially and contribute to our Wakashio Fund you can donate online via our website https://www.mauritian-wildlife.org/donate mentioning ‘Wakashio’

You can also make a direct bank transfer to

MWF Wakashio Fund
Mauritian Wildlife Foundation
Mauritius Commercial Bank,
Port Louis, Mauritius
Account number : 000 010204792
IBAN : MU52MCBL0901000000204792000MUR

By Heidi Stephenson

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