On this speck of volcanic soil in the middle of a vast sea, a complete, unique and peaceful world was created slowly and carefully. It waited there for hundreds of thousands of years for an annihilating invasion of voracious animals for which it was totally unprepared, a cohort of rapacious beasts led by the worst predator in the world, Homo sapiens...In an incredibly short space of time, a number of unique species had vanished...Mauritius, the green and mountainous island in the Indian Ocean that was once the home of the ill-fated dodo, still had among its fauna many unique but endangered species, among them Mauritius kestrels, Telfair's skinks, Gunther's geckos and pink pigeons. The indigenous flora and fauna of Mauritius were, by the 1970s, hanging onto their existence by their fingernails.When Gerald Durrell went to rescue some of these creatures from extinction, he experienced danger and discomfort, but enjoyed the adventures greatly. By the end of his trip, he had an extraordinary collection of animals to take to his Jersey sanctuary from where the progeny could, in time, be restored to Mauritius.
Gerald Durrell lived in Corfu with his family as a boy and became fascinated by the island's natural history; these years are famously documented in My Family and Other Animals. His lifetime's work began with expeditions to collect endangered animals from all over the world and bring them to his breeding sanctuary. The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust now operates conservation programmes worldwide, carrying on Durrell's mission to save species from extinction.