Sugar cane or hair sausages to combat oil spills in Mauritius

But without delay, the local populations mobilized with temporary resources to limit the damage to the beaches. Fabrice d’Unienville, business leader, grew up in Pointe-d’Esny. With his younger brother, he is one of the early volunteers.

We arrived very early on Friday morning. It was a shock when we saw the damage in the lagoon, we very quickly had the idea to make blood sausages from sugar cane straws, which are available in quantity on the island. Sugar cane straws are rolled up in a kind of perforated cloth. And we use plastic and plugs to float the sausage on the water. This served us to channel the heavy oil so that it could be pumped.

In the beginning we were a group of about twenty people. But very soon we got hundreds of people. At present, we are about 200 active at the site of Mahébourg [un village également touché par la marée noire, NDLR]. But on the weekends, almost 1,000 to 1,500 people made sausages on the beach. Almost forty kilometers of sausages were made by the people.

The private companies operating in the port have made Cubitainers available to us so that we can dump the oil there. It is a fairly new and exceptional civic mobilization. Mauritius has never experienced an ecological disaster of this magnitude. Fishermen and those who organize tourist excursions at sea make their boats available. They had already been hit by Covid-19 and the tourism crisis that followed the closure of borders. But they will still be hit hard by this oil spill, which threatens the island’s biodiversity. This is just the beginning. And cleaning can take a long time.

Hair to make sausages

To combat oil spills is no idea too much. Thus, Joanna Bérenger, a member of the opposition Mouvement militant mauricien (MMM) party, came up with the idea of ​​making sausages from hair.

The elected politician set the tone by cutting his own hair and then publishing the cliché on social networks. She explains to our editorial staff:

The hair absorbs a lot of oil and that is why I cut the hair myself to encourage people to do it. Hair has a very high absorbency. One kilo of hair can absorb up to eight liters of oil. And it has proven itself.


Despite being far-reaching, the technology was invented byPhil mccrory, a hairdresser in Alabama. In particular, it was used in 2010 to try to contain the oil that escaped into the Gulf of Mexico during the oil spill following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon platform in the United States. The technology is not yet used in square. However, the strands of hair can be used in the final stages of cleaning the lagoon. Hard drives have been launched across the island.

According to Fabrice d’Unienville, the activism of the population would have made it possible to absorb at least 500 m3 of hydrocarbons from the water. And according to the authorities, about 510 tons were pumped from the boat’s tanks. But with the swells and increasingly choppy water, the ship threatens to split in two.

Some photos of the citizens’ mobilization to fight the oil spill. Credit: NGO Eco-Sud

This is not the first time a ship has run aground off Mauritius. In June 2016, MV Benita, a Liberian bulk driver, was destroyed in the same region. But according to Sébastien Sauvage, head of NGO Eco-Sud, “the reaction was rapid because the volume of transported fuel was much lower (125 tons). Today the situation is different and much more serious because more than 1000 tons of oil spilled in the lagoon. We have no thought but the observed damage is real. “The region has several nature reserves such as the Blue Bay Marine Park and the Nature Reserve of Ile aux Aigrettes. Major mobilization of citizens is trying to prevent this preserved biodiversity from being severely affected by oil spills.

Article written by Hermann Boko