Changing Planet

Expedition: Granitic Seychelles

I have just landed on Mahé Island, the main island of the Seychelles, where I will be spending the next two and a half weeks working with the Island Biodiversity & Conservation centre of the University of Seychelles, the NGO Island Conservation Society, and exploring the grantic islands of the Inner Seychelles. The Seychelles and New Zealand share a history of similar island conservation trajectories. In 1995 New Zealand conservation legend Don Merton visited the Seychelles to investigate the feasibility of applying New Zealand rodent eradication methods in the tropical Seychelles, and New Zealanders were also at ground zero for the rat invasion of Frégate Island. Both situations highlighted the synergies shared between the two countries, but also the unique challenges faced in rodent eradication and biosecurity.

1750s plan des isles Mahé by Guillaume de la Haye (Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France)

From those initial attempts at tropical island rodent eradications, the Seychelles have gone on to undertake many eradications of introduced mammals and created a formidable track record and conservation legacy. Our knowledge of rodent biosecurity and tropical island rat eradications have now increased considerably, such that ambitious projects like Aldabra atoll are now being scoped. In my time here I hope to gain a better impression of the unique history and context of island conservation in the Seychelles, and help encourage increased island conservation efforts throughout the greater Western Indian Ocean. This will culminate in a presentation at the World Seabird Conference in Cape Town at the end of the month.

I shall be posting regular updates on my Voices Blog every few days of my discoveries on the granitic islands of the Seychelles so don’t forget to check back often.

Conservation biologist Dr. James Russell works throughout the world on remote islands and other sites to provide conservation solutions by applying a combination of scientific methods. Follow James on National Geographic voices for regular updates on his own work or other exciting developments in island conservation.
  • Sandra Hanks

    Welcome to the rock, James. Hope all goes well and I look forward to following the work.

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