The Seychelles, are one of the true paradises of this earth, which enchant not only by an enormous biodiversity, but above all by the multicultural and multiethnic Seychellois, who live a cordial openness.
Due to the remoteness of the islands and the long distance to the mainland, a unique ecosystem was created, which could develop completely uninfluenced and still has a unique flora and fauna.
Each island has its own unique topography and characteristics, which have given rise to a large number of rare animals and plants.
Unique location, flora and fauna
One of the best known examples is the Coco de Mer, also known as the Seychelles Palm. Its unusual double-nut shape, which resembles the female pelvis, has the largest seed in the entire plant world. To admire this particular palm, one must visit the smaller islands of Praslin and Curieuse, as they are rarely found on the main island of Mahé or La Digue. The Seychelles are also home to the rare jellyfish tree, the world's heaviest tortoise and the tiny Seychelles tree frog.
When the French discovered and settled these beautiful islands, they were so impressed by the beauty of the forests that it was even called "Ile de Abondance" on the first sea charts, which means "Island of Abundance".
Today's Seychelles are a truly dreamlike paradise, despite the changes that gradually came about as a result of settlement in 1770. Coconut plantations were systematically cultivated and cultivated plants were introduced, such as cinnamon from Madagascar or vanilla from Central America. However, both are no longer cultivated in large quantities, since on the one hand the cultivation of cinnamon turned out to be unprofitable due to the low world market price and on the other hand the cultivated vanilla, an orchid species, largely died due to diseases. Therefore, only little vanilla is exported today.
However, on some granite islands you can still find the wild vanilla with its beautiful salmon-coloured flowers. Likewise, smaller amounts of the cloves are found in the higher mountainous regions of the Seychelles. The full variety of tropical fruits that grow on the islands, such as mango, pineapple, guava, banana, coconuts, lychees, the breadfruit, papayas, corosol, and the fruits of the bilimbi tree (cucumber tree) can be found at the charming, colourful market in Victoria.
Influence of management
The coconut palm is a very low-maintenance and fully exploitable plant, which is why it is of great economic interest. From the trunk, which is used for the production of furniture, over the leaves, which are processed to roofs, as well as the fibers, which are used as filling material of cushions and mattresses, up to the coconuts, from whose dried meat coconut oil is extracted, there are few plants which can be so completely utilized. Therefore it is not surprising that coconut plantations displaced considerable parts of the primeval forests in the course of the time.
Deforestation and the export of native woods, such as the Bois de Fer (ironwood), also caused a lasting and serious change in the fauna.
Fortunately, in the mid-20th century, the Seychellois recognized the long-term damage to the flora and fauna they were inflicting on their island and made efforts to reforest their forests. The trade in tropical timber was stopped and various species of trees such as bois noir, rosewood and mahogany were replanted on the cleared areas.
The unique wildlife in the air, on land and in the water
The abundance of wildlife is unique in the Seychelles due to its remoteness. Therefore, the beautiful island archipelago is a paradise for ornithologists, researchers and nature lovers of all kinds. There are 13 bird species and 17 subspecies alone that can only be found here. A special spectacle can be observed when gigantic colonies of sooty terns and fairy terns breed on "Bird Island" during the summer months.
Only one mammal was native to the Seychelles before humans, and that is the Seychelles flying fox. This herbivorous bat, which glides silently through the evening sky with an impressive wingspan of up to 1 metre, is reminiscent of stories of vampires. But all they consume are delicious fruits, which they nibble hanging upside down directly from the trees.
The reassuring thing is that no poisonous animals live on the Seychelles. But there are different types of lizards, small, very shy snakes and numerous nimble climbing geckos that lurk in the evening hours on walls and ceilings for flies.
The insect life is also unique, around 65% of them are found exclusively on these beautiful islands.
The maritime life is a true Eldorado for divers, for snorkeling and for anglers. Since fishing with trawl nets is prohibited, the underwater world has remained largely intact over the past decades. You can admire the full range of tropical fish, from various species of bonefish and cartilaginous fish, clownfish, three-striped tigerfish, trumpetfish, three-spotted angelfish, frogfish, broad-striped false snapper, the red snapper and many more.
A special feature is the mudskipper, which makes use of two habitats at once. It can be found both in the water and on land. This 5-10 cm large amphibious fish, lives preferably between the mangrove branches or on the granite rocks of the coasts. Rays, whales, dolphins, whitetip sharks and nurse sharks also feel very much at home off the Seychelles islands.
A special mention, however, deserve the graceful sea turtles, whose population, in contrast to early years, has been significantly decimated, but which are now under conservation. This leads to the fact that every year more than 1000 females land on the island of Aldabra to lay their eggs. This beautiful island atoll is the most important egg-laying site in the Indian Ocean.
All mentioned animals, meet them of course not only at selected beaches, but also during a normal snorkel tour there is always a meeting with dolphins, turtles and in individual cases also with sharks, but mostly without major incidents.
As in any other country, for a time little attention was paid to the protection of natural resources in the Seychelles. But quickly developed a keen awareness of these incredible natural treasures. Mistakes of the past, were corrected by various measures and with great commitment. Many areas of the maritime world are under strict conservation, national parks have been established and the islands of Aldabra, Cousin and Aride are bird sanctuaries which may only be entered in the company of authorised scientists. Aldabra, one of the largest atolls in the world, and the Valleé de Mai on the island of Praslin, are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Another fabulous arrangement has been made with some private owners of some smaller islands where some very nice and expensive luxury resorts have been created. Much of this income goes directly into conservation projects.
Much is also being done by the government and the media to increase the awareness of the local population for their nature. Educational campaigns about the consequences of improper disposal of garbage and electrical appliances, as well as the prohibition of unauthorized deforestation of palm trees and trees, are only a small part of the measures that lead to a higher sensitivity of the population.
All in all, the Seychellois are on a very good, progressive path to protect and preserve their wonderful paradise.