06 February 2009

Silhouette Island, Seychelles, August 2008

During our honeymoon tour of the Indian Ocean and East Africa late last year, my new bride and I travelled in the Seychelles, including a stay on Silhouette Island. My natural excitement at being in the Seychelles with my bride was enhanced by the diverse wildlife to be found in the country.

Silhouette, as I discovered, is home to the Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles (NPTS). The NPTS was established in 1992 as the first environmental non-governmental organisation registered in Seychelles. NPTS aims to restore and preserve viable ecosystems and takes a long-term view of ecology. Much of its work involves monitoring and scientific research. This research is providing new insights into ecological problems and ecosystem management. My bride, knowing my intense interest in zoology, herpetology, and wildlife in general, insisted we visit. However, when we did, we found the NPTS centre closed; I duly left a note with our name and number. That same evening around 9:00PM, as we were headed to the bar, we received a call from the nice English scientist and conservationist who runs the centre. He apologised for having missed us earlier, but had gone to Mahé (the main island) for supplies. He invited us for a tour that night.

The NPTS site on Silhouette features a visitor centre, giant tortoise enclosure, and tortoise breeding compound. In fact it is home to the Seychelles Giant Tortoise Conservation Project, dedicated to the preservation and propagation of the Seychelles giant tortoise. The visitor centre itself contains a thorough exhibit of the local fauna, including a live endangered Seychelles terrapin, incubating giant tortoise eggs, a miniscule tree frog no bigger than the fingernail of your smallest finger, and a ferocious-looking (dead) specimen of the poisonous giant centipede (we had spotted one during our earlier stay on Mahé).

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