The first visitors to arrive were the Portuguese. In the course of their travels to the East Indies, they visited the island in 1510, but considered that it was of no immediate
commercial interest to them.
The names then given to the islands of the South-Western Indian Ocean region were of European origin: Cirne or the Island of the Swan for Mauritius, Rodriguez for Rodrigues, and the
Mascarenes for the archipelago comprising Mauritius, its neighbour Réunion Island and Rodrigues.
Though the Portuguese did not settle in Mauritius, they introduced and left animals on the island, as it was a port of call on the route to the Indies; unfortunately, these animals,
including pigs, goats, oxen, dogs and rats, were to lead to the subsequent extinction of some indigenous animals.
During their occupation, they plundered the natural ebony forests and exterminated the famous dodo