Of all the attractions that the sylvan isle of Mauritius has to offer, the Bird Garden of Casela must, by far, be one of the most unusual.

Seldom does a natural wildlife preserve try to concentrate on just one class of animal but this one does, and the Casela Bird Garden prides itself in being an avian haven without parallel.

Situated on the island's western quarter within the Riviere Noire - Black River - region, the park is home to over 140 species of bird, and these feathered flutterers are both endemic to the Mauritian isle and from far away lands. Just because birds are boss, however, doesn't mean that there are no other animals to be seen, and visitors can delight in watching the ever-present monkeys and geckos at play while their children explore the park's pet farm.

Although the most famous of all Mauritian birds - the dodo - is no more, Casela manages to present to the public glimpses of almost all of the remaining Mauritian avian species. Given, furthermore, the garden's idyllic backdrop, which includes perfect peaks like Rampert Mountain and quaint villages like Cascavelle, there is literally nothing to match a walk through Casela if it's bird-trill punctuated tranquility that the walker is looking for.

The Garden also lies close to the Tamarin Falls with its seven famous cataracts as well as Cascavelle's Ganesh-dedicated Hindu temple - built over a hundred years ago in 1902 - so there is plenty in the area for the curious visitor to explore.

As far as birds are concerned, Casela is home to such diverse species as bustards, mynahs and kites, but pride of place must be taken by the extremely rare long-necked pink pigeon.

Other species of birds that are classified as either endangered or vulnerable that find safe homes in the park include the bulbul, which can be recognized by its yellowish-brown eyes, the rainforest-loving cuckooshrike and the Rogrigues fody, which prefers shrubs to forests.

The garden caters to all birds, however, and offers watery habitats well-stocked with fish to the waterfowl as well as both tropical forests and leafy green shrubs to the rest.

Kite-surfing, hiking and cycling are all very well, but when these activities prove too strenuous to be contemplated during the heat of the day, a visit to the pleasantly peaceful Bird Garden of Casela is just the thing to restore lost energy.

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