31st January marks an important day on the Seychelles Eco-Calendar – on this day each year we focus on the amazing biodiversity and beauty of Seychelles’ natural environment, and we strengthen our resolve to nurture and protect it for the well-being of current and future generations of Seychellois and visitors to the islands.
The first Protected Area in Seychelles was established in 1979 with the creation of the St Anne Marine National Park. By 2017, over 47% of Seychelles’ total land area is protected under the categories of Strict Nature Reserve, Ecological Reserve, National Park, Protected Landscape/Seascape or Sustainable Use Area. The Government of Seychelles has also committed to designating Protected Areas in over 30% of its marine EEZ.
The GOS-UNDP-GEF Outer Islands Project is targeting four islands in the Outer Islands of Seychelles, namely Alphonse, Desroches, Farquhar and Poivre, to be declared National Protected Areas. Currently researching and collecting data on species biodiversity and abundance in these pristine terrestrial and marine habitats, ICS is instrumental in presenting a strong case for their ongoing conservation management and sustainability.
Whose Egg Is That? You guessed it – a Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii stands guard by its egg on Bancs du Sable of the Farquhar Atoll in the Outer Islands of Seychelles.
Greater Crested Terns prefer offshore islands for nesting, where they choose a flat open site to create a shallow scrape in bare sand, rock or coral. . A single egg (very occasionally two) is incubated for 25 – 30 days. Chicks fledge at 30 – 40 days but remain dependent on their parents until 4 months.
Foraging generally in the shallow waters of lagoons, coral reefs, estuaries, bays and inlets within 3km of their breeding site, they feed predominantly on pelagic fish, supplemented by cephalopods, crustaceans, and opportunistically for insects and even sea turtle hatchlings. No wonder this one has chosen pristine and biodiverse Farquhar.
The last confirmed breeding at this location was in 2000, so we are very encouraged by this fresh siting by the ICS Conservation Team. Stay tuned!
Whose Egg Is That?
Our Farquhar Team were excited to discover this nest on Bancs de Sable recently. Can you name the species? Hint: It's the first confirmed record for this area in 17 years!
A long year of school learning is finished, you are ready for holidays – how do you relax and recharge? By spending another week learning in the best outdoor classroom ever – a remote island of the Seychelles archipelago.
Eight lucky Seychellois students aged 11 to 16 years did just that from 11 – 15 December 2017, when they were chosen as EcoSchool Ambassadors to visit the outer island of Desroches, at the invitation of Islands Development Company (IDC). It was a week of amazing new experiences – lifechanging, they say.
Chosen for their dedication to protecting our natural environment, students were apprenticed to ICS and IDC staff to learn about conservation, sustainable development, outer island management and daily life.
From beach patrols to tortoise feeding, coral spotting to native plantings, the ICS Conservation Team were impressed with the students’ enthusiasm, knowledge and willingness to try many new activities throughout the week.
Whilst night beach patrolling, the students mimicked the calls of nesting Wedge-tailed Shearwaters Ardenna pacifica and were delighted to hear the birds respond, helping to locate nesting burrows. Large numbers of Horned Ghost Crabs Ocypode ceratophthalmus were night-scavenging on the retreating tide, running around and over and around the students’ feet. They were surprised yet undeterred from their patrol!
Students participated in a turtle stranding recovery and autopsy. “We were impressed with the high level of understanding and maturity displayed by the students. This whole experience was a good example of why turtles need protection, as this was an apparently healthy individual which died of an unknown cause. We were able to discuss the natural vulnerability of such wildlife, even without the threat of poaching”, said Conservation Officer Matthew Morgan.
Rubbish was collected on daily morning beach walks and some was recycled as Christmas tree ornaments. Students also loved helping in the native tree nursery and planting their own native trees as part of the island’s Vegetation Restoration Management Plan. “Even though the kids were very tired after their hectic schedule they still came out and planted their trees (in the rain!). Everybody learned a lot about why conservation is important for the island, and we have mounted the documents they created on our wall as a display”.
The successful EcoSchools Educational Trips Programme continues with the first group of students for 2018 arriving this week on Silhouette Island for their own Nature Adventures with ICS and IDC. Stay tuned for their dispatch!