by Teesha Baboorun - ICS CEPF Project Leader (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The first days of March 2017 were very fruitful and very exciting ones for the Silhouette ICS team. Accompanied by Dr. Bruno Senterre, Francois and Teesha conducted the first biodiversity survey mission under the CEPF grant in the unique forest of Silhouette.
On the first day Dr Bruno Senterre, a well-known botanist, helped the ICS Silhouette team to plan the expedition and brief the team on the work to be done: to improve the distribution data of Key Biodiversity species on Silhouette Island.
We set off the second day early morning to the trail of Anse Mondon. For the second part of the exploration, we followed the Rivière Machabée to reach Mare Aux Cochons, the only high altitude wetland on Silhouette. On our way we got the chance to identify various rare species like Polyscias sechellarum var. sechellarum (Bois papaye) or Nepenthes pervillei (Pitcher plant) and took samples for the Silhouette Herbarium. We spent the night in a swamp forest on the slopes of the highest peak of the island: Mont Dauban.
During the night, we heard the calls of different species of Sooglossid frogs all around our camp site, namely the Sooglossus pipilodryas (found on Silhouette only); the Sooglossus gardineri, Sooglossus sechellensis and Nesomantis thomasseti which can be found on Silhouette and Mahé. The Sooglossidae are tiny frogs: the smallest species (Sooglossus gardeneri) believed to be the tiniest frog in the world, measures just about 9-12 mm long.
The next day was the most fruitful, leading to the first sighting of Asplenium petiolulatum on Silhouette Island! This species of fern is very rare in Seychelles and is now known from 4 individuals only. We also got the chance to see different key species as the Trilepisium gymnandrum (Critically Endangered; known from less than 50 individuals) and Colea seychellarum (Endangered).
Our next Biodiversity survey will take place in July 2017 and focus on the Mont Pot-à-Eau and Grand Congoman pristine forest.