The event may have gone unnoticed in Mauritius, but it is significant, to the point where foreign media, including the renowned French newspaper Libération, devote space to it in their columns. On Thursday, July 4, 2024, about 100 Cylindrocline lorencei, a shrub endemic to Mauritius, were reintroduced into the wild.

A good part was planted in Pétrin, in the Black River Gorges National Park. The particularity of Cylindrocline lorencei is that it had completely disappeared from natural environments since the 90s, due to deforestation and invasive plant species.

The plant had been saved from extinction in extremis by the French botanist and founder of the National Botanical Conservatory of Brest, Jean-Yves Lesouëf, who had managed to collect some seeds which were preserved in the Brest seed bank. However, there was a major problem: the seeds could not germinate naturally.

But thanks to advances in biotechnology, the National Botanical Conservatory of Brest, in collaboration with the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA) in Ploudaniel, succeeded in regenerating the entire plant in 1993. Subsequently, Cylindrocline lorencei was successfully propagated through embryo culture and later by in vitro culture techniques.

From 2009, the conservatory turned to the French applied research center, Vegenov, to multiply hundreds of plants on a larger scale, by in vitro micropropagation. The Pétrin region was chosen because it has the same biotic and abiotic conditions as the original habitat in Plaine-Champagne.

These hundred plants born in Brest, according to a precise protocol, are now reintroduced in the conservation management zones of Mauritius, with about fifty plants in Pétrin. The protocol was submitted to the National Parks and Conservation Service in order to ensure the sustainable return of Cylindrocline lorencei to its natural environment as well as its long-term survival.

This reintroduction is a joint initiative of the National Botanical Conservatory of Brest in France and the National Parks and Conservation Service of Mauritius. The project is funded by the Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd.

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