Environment, safety,
best practice

Since
1921

The Mauritian
Way

An economic
asset

AN EXPERIENCE LIKE NO OTHER

Long standing traditions

Deer, wild pigs and hare

Dogs, loyal team members

Hunting as a visitor

LONG STANDING TRADITIONS

Hunting was one of the first activities performed by the visitors and settlers in Mauritius, centuries ago, as they had to look for food. Though it is also a sport nowadays, it remains primarily an important source of fresh, lean and healthy red meat, enjoyed in all Mauritian homes and in restaurants across the island.

Deer, wild pigs and hare are the three main types of quarry in Mauritius. Forests are the principal hunting grounds, except for hare hunting, which takes place in sugar cane fields bordering woodland. Hunting of Rusa deer – the local king of game – is strictly regulated and is fertile ground for a set of traditions that still stand the test of time. Among these, are the friendly meetings at dawn on the hunting ground and the atmosphere of fellowship during the day, hunting for free for the owners of pack of hounds, sharing of free meat with helpers, esteem for the hunted animal, severe penalties for hunters who do not respect the safety rules and the minimum age of the prey to be shot, group lunch after hunting…

Wild pigs and hare can be hunted all year long in Mauritius. Deer hunting is however limited to four months per year, between the 1st of June and the 30th of September. This calendar is set so as to respect the natural cycle of reproduction and growth of these animals. Indeed, at the beginning of June, deer antlers are mature and the youngest fawns are already strong enough to run away and escape the hunting hounds chasing them.

Deer hunting is performed with a specific technique that does not require hunters to stalk their prey. Gunners are placed at specific places around the edge of glades. They can then shoot the deer that are made to come out of hiding from the forest by hounds and helpers. The glades are large enough for bullets shot from one side to fall to the ground before reaching the opposite side – where hunters, other participants and dogs could be. In some places, small wooden watchtowers make it possible to shoot from above, therefore greatly reducing the risks of wounds from stray bullets.

Driven hunting or hunting from a hide are used for wild pigs and hare, depending on the type of terrain. Hare hunters can also stalk their prey without dogs. Wild pigs are mostly found in the same areas as deer, while hares are hunted in some sugar cane fields, with special authorisation from the field owners – for safety reasons.

Hunting season for deer is from the 1st of June to the 30th of September

DEER, WILD PIGS AND HARE

Rusa deer were brought in from Java by the Dutch settlers in the 17th century. Over 70,000  of these game animals now roam in the 80 hunting grounds of Mauritius. This ‘Mauritian deer’ bears small differences with its Asian and European cousins, having a slightly longer tail and longer neck hairs. 

The « brown swine » is a wild pig that is specific to Mauritius, being a hybrid of boars and farm pigs, both imported by colonisers of the island. Its cunningness make it an exciting and challenging prey for hunters, who also highly value its fine venison. Its exceptional sense of smell and very sharp hearing allow it to detect other animals or humans that could be a threat.

This smart animal has developed the ability to evade hunting dogs and helpers by using rivers and ditches in the hunting grounds.

Hares are related to rabbits but are larger, have browner fur and very strong hind legs that make them formidable runners that are very difficult to catch, even for hunting hounds. Their meat has a strong venison taste. As the hare is a very prolific animal, with no local predator in the wild, it can wreack havoc in vegetable fields if its population is not kept in check by hunting.

DOGS, LOYAL TEAM MEMBERS

Hunting dogs have been imported to Mauritius for centuries. Purebreds from France, Spain or Italy are now rare and most of the packs comprise mixed breed dogs from pure lineage, or a mix of local breeds and pure hunting hounds. Only a few hunters now own pedrigree dogs, as they are very costly to buy and maintain, and quarantine is very long (6 months).

These dogs work all year long, as they participate in wild pig hunting and hare hunting when the deer hunting season is over. Big driven hunting events usually mobilise dozens of dogs that help to  get game out of the undergrowth, in coordination with helpers, and scare them towards the spots where hunters are located.

A successful hunting party often depends on the number and efficiency of the dogs. Their collaboration is one of the usual topics of the friendly conversations that hunters engage in after the event is over. Dog owners also have a special status in the Mauritian hunting world: they are offered free entries to hunting events, in return for the presence of their hounds. This is because they incur important expenses all year long to take care of these hounds, feed them, own and maintain kennels, and pay the teams of assistants. Free hunting is thus a way to compensate for that.

HUNTING AS A VISITOR

Foreign visitors to Mauritius can hunt here if they comply with the national laws. The latter define the conditions for them to use a hunting firearm and to hunt, under strict supervision and control of the adequate entities (organisations and persons) who have received the necessary authorisations.

Some companies provide such services of « visitors’ hunting » to tourists or expats.

CONTACT US

THE SOCIETY OF HUNTERS OF MAURITIUS
© The Society of Hunters of Mauritius – All rights reserved.