The dodo is the symbol of Mauritius and used as a watermark on all Mauritian Rupees and banknotes.
The bird was discovered around 1598 and became extinct around 1662 as they could not escape from the humans due to their lack of wings. They were entirely fearless of humans, and its fearlessness and inability to fly made them easy prey for sailors who settled on the island. The traditional image of the dodo is of a very fat and clumsy bird which were of a pleasant flavour and easily masticated. The bird was found interesting enough that living specimens were sent to Europe and the Eastern part of the world. The number of transported dodos that reached their destinations alive is uncertain.
The dodo lived alongside other extinct Mauritian birds such as the flightless red rail, Mauritius blue pigeon, Mauritius owl and the Mauritian duck. In addition to fallen fruits, the dodo probably used to survive on nuts, seeds, bulbs, and roots. It has also been suggested that the dodo might have eaten crabs and shellfish, like their relatives the crowned pigeons.
Based on their weight estimation of approximately 50 pounds, it has been put forward the male could reach the age of 21, and the female 17.
Before humans arrived, Mauritius was entirely covered in forests and the preferred habitat of the dodo remains unknown, but old descriptions suggest that it inhabited the woods on the drier coastal areas of south and west Mauritius. Yet, the fact that the dodo survived hundreds of years of volcanic activity and climate changes shows the bird was resilient within its ecosystem.
Apart from humans hunting these harmless animals, their eggs would also be stolen by the animals, which were brought on the islands such as monkeys, dogs and the uninvited rats. It was also mentioned in the sailors’ diaries that the dodo used its beak for defense.
*Photo Credit > Thoughtco