It's twenty five years or more now, since Shash, my bride-to-be, and I returned back to Mauritius from a trek around the three cirque on Réunion. It was a couple of days before our wedding and we were taking lunch with France Staub, a dentist by trade, but a prominent amateur naturalist in the Mascarenes and other islands of the Indian Ocean.
France was eager for all the details as we described our trip through the array of habitats that greeted us, when we trekked through the cirques over the rims of the craters and up the slopes of the Piton Des Neiges.
With the books he had authored and the photographs we had taken, open on the restaurant table as we all ate, we discussed the indigenous, the endemic and the exotic. The safe, the threatened and the extinct; the differing worlds of flora and fauna.
As discussion progressed I relayed the story of the strange clicking noise that followed us through the inner basin of the Cirque de Mafate and as we began rising up the lower slopes of the crater's outer edge. Suddenly, I explained, the source of the noise landed on the ground, directly in front of me, I stumbled trying not to crush it under foot, and it flew off.
France was on the edge of his seat, the spoon in his hand frozen midway between mouth and bowl. A moth he said, it was a moth! Yes I said excitedly. A moth, not a bird but a moth! He could hardly contain himself, he knew this was a truly momentous experience. He was already out of his seat, grasping towards me, hands eager... Where are the photographs?
I fell back in my seat. Wounded by my own inadequacy. I don't have any France! He couldn't have been more shattered if I'd just burned his entire life's work.
I won't repeat France's thoroughgoing admonishment of me here; But I will admit to a lesson well learned. He taught me a great deal of the responsibility we all carry to observe, to document and to protect.
I'm glad to be on The Dodo. I'm glad to have an affinity with it's origins and its aims.