Many of the beaches on Curieuse Island are visited by sea turtles during the turtle nesting and breeding season. These include hawksbills and green turtles. The Authority monitors the movement of the sea turtles during each breeding season as part of their turtle conservation and monitoring programme.  Turtles are tagged and specific measurements taken.  The information are recorded and analysed to understand habitat utilization, the size of the population, nesting behavior and population trends. Staff must be properly trained to enable them to accurately collect the necessary data.

At the beginning of the 2012-13 hawksbill nesting season, a group of SNPA staff including some GVI volunteers under the leadership of Dr. Jeanne Mortimer, met in a workshop on Curieuse to learn about the biology and conservation of sea turtles, methods to identify turtle species, sea turtle evolution, natural history and threats, as well as their value to human and ecosystems. The training was delivered through power point presentations and discussion. The aim was to prepare the participants for the 2012-13 hawksbill nesting season.

Participants visited major nesting beaches especially Grand Anse and Anse Papaie. In addition, they were able to assess the physical condition of the beaches and vegetation and to examine the green turtle body pits. Following the training a number of recommendations were made through a report to the Management of the Authority.

As a result of the training, there has been an improvement in the quality of data from 2012-13 nesting season. With the assistance of GVI, we are also updating the database from 2007 onwards in order to produce a report and publication on the population dynamics and trends of the nesting populations of Curieuse Island. 

It was the initiative of the Indian Ocean Commission (COI) to organize and invite Indian Ocean countries to participate in a one week, Marine Protected Areas Management Training, held on Rodrigues Island. Delegates from five countries participated, and these included Zanzibar, Mauritius and Rodrigues, Comoros, Madagascar and Seychelles. Four participants from Seychelles attended the workshop, and these included Mr. Remie Asman and Mr. Anto Suzette, who are both Assistant Park Officers with the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA).

The training opened on Monday 9th December by the Chief Commissioner of Rodrigues Island. It was aimed at building the capacity of participants to better manage the MPAs they are responsible for, to implement effective management, and achieve better communication, while dealing with possible threats that they encounter in their MPAs.

Each participant had to give a short presentation of their MPA, and lead discussions to further elaborate on their role and enable sharing of ideas, so that they could learn from each other and gain new insights about better MPA management and threat reduction.

Mr. Asman describes the training as a very good learning opportunity, and goes on to say that he has learnt a lot in terms of long term conservation and sustainable use of marine resources and biodiversity. Since communication is a key element in the day to day running of any organization, he is now trying to turn his workplace into a better working environment, by establishing a good communication network between staffs and their superiors. He hopes to contribute and help lead the drawing up and implementation of an effective Management Plan for the operations unit of SNPA.

Mr. Asman takes this opportunity to thank each and everyone who have supported the Seychelles participants and helped in making the training a success.

Mr. Remie Asman receives his certificate upon completion of the training

Mr. Anto Suzette receives his certificate at the end of the training

The Mt Sebert trail is found in the Cascade district. From the top of the Mt. Sebert summit, one has a clear view of the International Airport and the East coastline. The trail offers many rare and endemic species of fauna and flora, including palms such as Latanier Latte and Latanier Millepattes. Here one can enjoy a peaceful walk and can hear the tiniest frogs in the world, the Sooglosids, calling.

Nature Seychelles has called on local volunteers to carry out the reef rescue project that will restore reefs destroyed by climate-induced bleaching.

The project’s technical manager Dr Gideon Levy said it is crucial for them to take part. Volunteers can help in preparing and transplanting of corals.

"Local people can learn valuable techniques for reef restoration. As we have done with our pioneering land-based island restoration programmes in the past we would like to generate a pool of skilled local persons for sustained reef restoration," Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles’ chief executive said.

The call was made at workshop to introduce the United States Agency for International Development-Reef Rescue project being carried out by the organisation.

Held at the island conservation centre on Praslin, this workshop brought together representatives of the Seychelles National Parks Authority, Seychelles Fishing Authority, Seychelles Hospitality & Tourism Association, Praslin Development Fund, Seychelles Islands Foundation and local boat charters.

Learning can be fun

A school holiday camp was organised last month to provide children from various schools in the country valuable outdoor experiences which promote relationship with the environment and build deep environmental knowledge and understanding of the world that surrounds them.

Its objectives are to develop a generation of eco-warriors who become active citizens, making lifelong informed environmentally sustainable decisions; to promote an appreciation and lifelong connectedness to the environment and eventually influence their interest in performing environmentally friendly behaviour; to develop young environment leaders who will eventually become active environment change agents in their respective schools and communities; to develop confidence and enhance social skills for active citizenships and to provide school children with alternative fun educational activities during school holidays.

The mastermind behind the activities involved were staff from the Environment Education Unit of the Department of Environment, Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change; the Seychelles National Park Authority (SNPA); conservation and GVI Volunteers. The programme was sponsored by the Children’s Fund and the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change.

Curieuse Island, known for its land tortoises that roam freely on the island, is not only famous for its rich natural beauty but also for its rich history. The Doctor’s House, which houses a small museum recounting the story of the island, is another pride of Curieuse.

After being closed for over a year for renovation work, the building which is now a National Monument re-opened earlier last week in a small ceremony in the presence of Minister Didier Dogley, Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change, representatives from the Seychelles Marine National Parks Authority, Seychelles Heritage Foundation, children from the Praslin schools and various other partners.

Formerly used as a confinement for leprosy sufferers from 1829 to 1900 and again from 1937 to 1965, Curieuse still bears scars of the great fire of 1967 which destroyed an extensive part of the island’s vegetation.

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, which was common in the 1900s, is a bacterial infection which causes severe disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage to various parts of the body. Due to the fact that the disease was thought to be highly contagious, patients were confined on Curieuse Island to be treated and also as a form of protection for the rest of the community. Built in 1873 as residence of the Scottish Medical Officer in charge Dr. William MacGregor, the one storey building was of a traditional, colonial architecture, much of which it still displays today.

It was Minister Dogley and Air Seychelles representative Allan Renaud who officially opened the doors of the building. This was followed by a visit of the house, not only by the attendees but by eager visitors who were honoured to have witnessed this ceremony.

“I am happy that we could finally complete the reparation works and reopen the building, this is a good start in itself. I remember when I was first took office as the Minister for Environment I was saddened by the state of the Doctor’s House, especially from the wonderful memories I had of it from the time of Mrs Danielle De St Jore; it was really a beauty then. I am fascinated by old buildings and believe they should be preserved. So we decided that we had to do something to restore the Doctor’s House. We are grateful to our partners especially Air Seychelles. Though much has been done, the project remains ongoing especially for the exhibitions inside. Much emphasis has to be put on maintenance as well, so as to keep the building in a good condition,” Minister Dogley shared.

Air Seychelles, the project’s main sponsor, printed and updated the historical data in the re-modelled exhibition in the ground floor of the building.

Being the original sponsor of the exhibition, the national airline welcomed the idea to assist towards the refurbishment of the house. The first floor of the house rather displays the natural heritage of the island from artwork by local artists Dodo, Ally and Ernesta. From landscape paintings on the walls to hanging fish from the ceiling and dried tortoise shells, this floor depicts the ecological beauty of Curieuse and various species which occupy the island and its surrounding waters.

In his address to the invitees, Selby Remie, the chairperson of the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA), thanked all their partners and sponsors for their contribution towards the project and shared their desire for further partnership building.

He also advised the attendees that the project is an ongoing one and there are still some more work to be done.

Air Seychelles and Minister Dogley received tokens for their dedication towards the project in the ceremony.

Marvin Pool, a young student from Baie Ste Anne primary school, Chloe Michel from Praslin secondary school and Sir Andre and his young choir from Grand Anse Praslin primary school shared their poems and songs on that occasion.

“Those wooden doors which once welcomed so many people whom the society had left aside and abandoned, today welcomes so many visitors to share the story of a small island of great history and natural heritage. The Doctor’s House not only preserves the history of the island but also remains open for future documentations on the island. If only those walls had the power to speak, they could reveal so much. As the future generation we vow to keep this archive alive.”

The accompanying photos show highlights of the ceremony.

Trials to implant micro-chips on fist-sized giant tortoises are underway on Curieuse Island as the Seychelles National Park Authority (SNPA) implements new measures to prevent illegal trading of juvenile tortoises.

The small microchips, which are usually implanted in adults, are now being used on tortoises weighing not more than 100 grammes and only a few inches long.

According to local turtle expert Jeanne Mortimer, these tags donated by the Parco Natura Viva - Garda Zoological Park in Italy have never been used on juvenile tortoises but does not inflict any harm on them.

On March 19, 2017, the Ste Anne Marine Park turns 44, making it the oldest marine park in the country.

To celebrate this important milestone in marine conservation in Seychelles, a series of activities are being organised by the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) and its partners.

The main event will be an Adventure Race, scheduled for Sunday March 19, staring at 9am on Long island.