- Thousands of people have marched through the Mauritian capital, Port Louis, protesting against the government’s response to a massive oil spill off the island’s coast.
- Furthermore, worldwide awareness leads to protests taking place in London outside the Mauritian Embassy.
- In addition to the oil spill, the decision to sink the front part of the boat sparks controversy.
- The effect of the spill may set back the work to reintroduce many endangered species to the area by around 35 years.
Biggest Demonstration the Country has seen for Years
Of 150,000 people – about 12% of the island’s entire population – gathered to chant and sing in protest, reports BBC.
In London, protesters gathered outside the Mauritian embassy – a building that represents the island nation in the UK.
Moreover, the Mauritian government also appealed to the United Nations for urgent aid, including help from experts in oil spills and environmental protection.
“Even in my worst of nightmares, I would never have thought something like that could happen to us,” says Dr Vikash Tatayah, conservation director of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF).
“We are used to cyclones, droughts or an invasive species, it’s part of nature and we know how to cope with that. But we never thought we would have to face an oil spill.”
What Caused this?
In July, a Japanese-owned ship ran aground on a reef near to the island and started to leak oil.
The vessel split in two, causing more damage and spilling 1,000 tons of its 4,000-ton cargo of fuel into the sea.
This was spread along the 15-kilometre stretch of the Mauritian coastline, which has now become smeared with oil.
The captain and the first officer of the ship have been arrested after it was discovered the ship changed course from its intended route.
The decision to sink the front part of the boat sparked a lot of controversy because of the negative impact it could have on wildlife.
Why are Oil Spills bad for the Environment?
They can cause harm to wildlife for years after they have happened and tend to be very difficult to clean up.
As a result, the process for cleaning up oil spills can cause as much damage as the original spillage.
Devastating Effect on Wildlife
Above all, Environmental activists say the spill is destroying 35 years of work to reintroduce many endangered species to the area.
Around 39 dead dolphins have washed up along the Mauritius shoreline, with animal experts still working out if the oil spill was to blame.
Environmental organisation Greenpeace Africa said: “Regardless of whether the oil spill caused this, such a disaster must not happen again.”
Scientists say the impact of the spill could affect the island for many decades.
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