Conservation and Nature Reserves in the Seychelles

The Seychelles is on one level the very definition of a tropical-island paradise, with well-preserved natural ecosystems and wildlife. But it’s also among the nations most threatened by the sea-level rises being brought about by climate change, despite it’s being one of the destinations – according to – ‘least responsible for climate change’. Hence its commitment to reducing its per capita emissions and on its conservation work.

Conservation and Nature Reserves in the Seychelles

Nature reserves and green spaces in the Seychelles

This archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off Kenya comprises inner granite islands (including Mahé, Praslin and La Digue) and outer islands (including Aldabra). Some of the latter are the tips of coral reefs. Between them, these islands are home to 7 million migratory and resident birds, four turtle species, tropical fish galore, colourful flowering trees including hibiscus and frangipani, and areas of primary forest.

One of the best spots to visit is Le Morne Seychellois National Park with its rainforests, home to the rare jellyfish tree as well as other woodland giants, ferns, mangroves, orchids and more. Many of its plants and animals are endemic to the Seychelles. Walking and hiking trails crisscross it and there are lookouts and interesting sights including the Tea Factory and Mission Lodge.

There’s also the Marine Park of Port Launay on the southwest coast of Mahé, a virtually untouched spot with gorgeous beaches, a mangrove cove and wonderful, environmentally friendly snorkelling and diving amidst protected coral eco-systems.  

The Marine Park of Sainte-Anne was launched in 1973 as one of the first preserved areas of the Indian Ocean and is another valuable ecosystem. It’s close to Cerf Island, popular for hawksbill turtle sightings and for its rich marine grasslands inhabited by moray eels, rays and wrasse.

Conservation work in the Seychelles

Since the founding of giant tortoise colonies on Cerf Island in the 1790s, the Seychelles has been active in the field of conservation. What started as private nature reserves sometimes became national protected areas under government control, until NGOs were finally permitted in 1992.

First among them was the Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles, founder of the Roche Caiman Bird Sanctuary, the Giant Tortoise Conservation Project, Silhouette National Park and more. It has also worked with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Eden Project and the Zoological Society of London.

The Seychelles have been a particular success story when it comes to green sea turtles, which used to be hunted in the archipelago, especially in the isolated Aldabra Atoll. The population of Aldabra’s green turtle, Chelonia mydas, dropped to critically low levels, leading the UK’s eminent Royal Society to recommend that the atoll become a nature reserve with turtle protection in 1968. In 1982 it became a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The recovery has been wildly successful. Aldabra now has the 2nd-largest green-turtle breeding population in the western Indian Ocean and implements a rigorous turtle-track monitoring programme to keep count of nesting/egg-laying. Nests have been found to have increased by 410–665% since 1968, and on that basis the current population could double again as it already has done.

The protection of the habitats at Aldabra has also benefitted other species in the region, most notably the Aldabra giant tortoise for which the Seychelles is so famous – which was also close to extinction due to the nesting females being harvested. Aldabra is also the only place in the Seychelles where you can find dugongs (sea cows related to manatees), their presence probably a result of the turtles creating healthy seagrass beds through their grazing. As such, what has happened in Aldabra is inspiring to conservation efforts all over the globe.

For inspiration about Seychelles holidays, call your Travel Counsellor today.

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