Pristine Rodrigues used to have the highest density of land tortoises to have ever existed on planet earth. It took humans only 100 years to drive both of Rodrigues' endemic species to extinction - An estimated 280,000 tortoises were taken away on ships or killed for meat and oil between 1730 and 1770.
In 2006 and 2007, Francois Leguat Ltd re-introduced two species of tortoises (Aldabra and Radiated Tortoises) that are the closest living tortoise species to the extinct Rodrigues tortoises. The introduced tortoises were all born and raised at La Vanille Nature Park in Mauritius.
The rewilding of these two species is so successful that today there are more than 3000 individuals including babies at FranÃ§ois Leguat. There is now a feel of pre-history as one strolls through the Reserve and interacts with the giant tortoises.
Recently a third species, the Ploughshare Tortoise has been introduced under an agreement with the Government of Madagascar. This species is almost extinct in its natural habitat in Madagascar due to illegal pet trade. The aim is to breed them with the hope of eventually returning them to Madagascar.