For visitors to Seychelles interested in exploring special reserves and protected areas, Seychelles' two World Heritage Sites sites are places that warrant a slot on your to-do list.

Both properties are legally protected under national legislation and managed by a public trust, the Seychelles Islands Foundation, with daily operations guided by a management. 

 

Aldabra Atoll

A World Heritage Site since 1982, the Aldabra Atoll is an outstanding example of a raised coral atoll. Due to its remoteness and inaccessibility, it has remained largely untouched by humans for the majority of its existence. 

Aldabra is one of the largest atolls in the world and contains one of the most important natural habitats for studying evolutionary and ecological processes. It is home to the largest giant tortoise population in the world. The richness and diversity of the ocean and landscapes result in an array of colours and formations that contribute to the atoll's scenic and aesthetic appeal.

Getting there

As a remote and fragile atoll over 1,000 km southwest of the main island of Mahe, there are significant logistical challenges in getting to Aldabra. All visitors to the atoll must receive prior authorisation from SIF and access is limited to specific areas.

Visitors can get to Aldabra by chartering a boat trip of several days, or on a charter flight to Assumption, and then charter a boat to Aldabra, about 45 km away. There are no scheduled flights and details on charters can be obtained with the Islands Development Company that manages the islands.

Due to the activities of pirates operating from Somalia, the Seychelles Ministry of Internal Affairs and Coast Guard have placed strict restrictions on the movements of commercially hired craft operating in the outer islands, so the company will have to seek permission to provide the required service and will probably have to provide a security detail.

A number of companies have experience in visiting Aldabra. More information can be found here: http://www.seychelles.travel/en/home/index.php#

The link below provides other information if you wish to visit Aldabra.

https://sif.sc/aldabra

(David Stanley/Flickr) Photo License: CC-BY 2.0

 

Vallee de Mai

Located on the granitic island of Praslin, the Vallee de Mai reserve has a palm forest which remains largely unchanged since prehistoric times. Dominating the landscape is the world's largest population of endemic coco de mer, a flagship species of global significance as the bearer of the largest seed in the plant kingdom. The forest is also home to five other endemic palms and many endemic fauna species. The property is a scenically attractive area with a distinctive natural beauty. It was named a World Heritage Site in 1983.

Getting there

Located on Seychelles' second-most populated island, Praslin, the Vallee de Mai is a good deal more accessible than Aldabra.

Visitors can take a public bus scheduled throughout the opening hours on Praslin and there is a stop outside the Visitor Centre. Another option is taking a taxi and asking for Vallee de Mai, or renting your own car on Praslin. A free information booklet is provided at the entrance.

More information is provided with at the link below.

https://sif.sc/vdm  

(Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY

A Seychellois man has been arrested at OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa for being in possession of heroin, a South African news source reported on Sunday. 

The News24 wrote: “The man, who is from the Seychelles, was about to board a flight to Mahe Island in his country when he was arrested.”

The arrest last Wednesday was made when the security officer was conducting routine body searches of passengers, News24 reported.

“While searching this particular passenger, the officer felt an unusual hardness on the passenger's thighs,” the police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale was quoted as saying by News24.

The news source added that: “The passenger was moved to the searching area, where…the two hard objects were discovered to be white and rock-like, wrapped with Sellotape. Once unwrapped, it was discovered that the substance was heroin with a street value of R112,000 ($9,593).”

News24 said that the Seychellois national is due in court soon on charges of possession of illegal drugs.

SNA contacted the Anti-Narcotics Bureau of Seychelles and the spokesperson said that the agency cannot make any comment.  

The Seychelles’ St. Louis football club has a chance to progress to the next round of the Total African Champions league on Wednesday when it faces the Young Africans of Tanzania on home ground.

In its away match on Saturday, February 10, St. Louis lost 1-0 to Young Africansplaying in Dar es Salaam in front of around 65,000 Tanzanian fans.

The Seychellois side now needs to score two goals and not concede any more to move to the second round, which starts in March.

Speaking to SNA, St. Louis’ manager Davis Khan said for them the 1-0 loss was a positive result and that he really appreciated how his team played.  

“The position we took for the match in Tanzania was not to concede goals as much as possible and to concentrate on our defence,” said Khan.  “We lost by only one goal and this is a good result for us,” he added.

St. Louis will now be facing the Young Africans at home on Wednesday at 5.30 p.m. at Stad Linite with a better chance of making it to the next round.

“We are now playing on our own turf and we will be trying to seek an early goal. Even the training has been more focused on offence and how to be faster in attack,” said Khan. 

Another Seychellois club -- Anse Reunion -- playing in the CAF Confederation Cup has been eliminated after they lost 2-1 against APR of Rwanda on Tuesday. Anse Reunion had lost its away match 4-0 in Kigali earlier this month.

Coach Ted Esther said although his players had a hard task on Tuesday they played a lot better than in Kigali. Esther said the focus now is on the President's Cup match against St. Louis on March 3. 

A Seychellois women’s doubles badminton team has won gold in the African championship that took place in Algeria from February 16 to 18.

The Seychelles’ team of Juliette Ah-Wan and Allisen Camille defeated the Algerian duo of Doha Hany and Hadia Hosny in the final on Sunday 21-18, 13-21 and 21-18.

Speaking to SNA via Facebook, Ah-wan said, “I am so happy with our performance. I was not expecting gold.”

Ah-Wan said the final match was not easy and what made the victory special was that “I had stopped playing badminton for the last two years and just made my comeback six months ago for the competition.”

The gold is their third at an international event for Ah-Wan and Camille, 25, who have been playing in the women’s doubles for seven years. They also won gold in the African championship in Mauritius in 2013 and in the All Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville in 2015. 

The Seychelles' team -- winner of the gold medal -- with winners of the silver and bronze medals. (Juliette Ah-Wan) Photo License: CC-BY

Ah-Wan, 36, has also won other gold medals in international competition in the singles and mixed doubles events. She has won three gold medals in the African championships for women’s singles -- in Morocco in 2002, Algeria 2006 and Kenya in 2009. Ah-Wan has also won gold in the mixed doubles team.

The African Badminton Championships is a tournament organised by the Badminton Confederation of Africa(BCA) to crown the best badminton players in Africa. This year’s event saw the participation of 15 countries including Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. 

A first campaign has been launched in Seychelles to entice locals to visit the neighbouring island of Reunion – a French department in the Indian Ocean.

The campaign - Discover Reunion Island - is being done through the local media, brochures, banners as well with big posters on public buses.

Marketing executive for Reunion in Seychelles, Daphnee Zahary, said that the promotion is being led by the Indian Ocean market office of the Reunion Tourism Board.

“We know that Seychellois love travelling. The Reunion Island is really close to Seychelles but unfortunately, it is not really popular yet,” said Zahary, who is based at the Seychelles Tourism Board.

“The local people think that Reunion has only huge mountains to offer, and we wanted to show to the locals that there are a lot more to do and which is not that expensive,” said Zahary. 

New campaign in Seychelles markets neighbouring Reunion Island as a holiday destination

 The promotion is being led by the Indian Ocean market office of the Reunion Tourism Board. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license  

The campaign - Discover Reunion Island - is being done through the local media, brochures, banners as well with big posters on public buses. (Salifa Karapetyan/Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

“The Reunion Island is for everybody, for Seychellois - families, couples, and friends - who want to discover a new destination that is not too far, and especially for those who want a great shopping experience.”Contrary to local belief, the marketing executive said that the island is for families and is affordable.

Zahary said “the island has a range of accommodations for all budgets and all types of visitors. Visitors can take advantage of large French and European brands.”

According to Zahary 40 percent of the prestigious sites of Reunion have been classified in the World Heritage list of UNESCO.

“The Piton de la Fournaise volcano is the island’s main tourist attraction, and offers outdoor activities and original visits, such as the lava tunnels to be discovered on the coast, or the amazing “Cité du Volcan” museum.”

SNA spoke to a few people to find what they think of the campaign and why Mauritius is a more popular destination with the locals.

Piton de la Fournaise -- a major tourist attraction on Reunion island. (Brian Iannone, Wikipedia) Photo License: CC BY 3.0

“I think it is the language, we find easier to communicate in Creole to Mauritians, and we find them closer to us in terms of lifestyle. In Reunion we have to speak French,” said pensioner Raymonde Louise who has never been to Reunion but has been to Mauritius twice.

“The few Seychellois who does travel go there for treatment and for medical health care as they have facilities with European standards. But for shopping, the island tends to be expensive and Mauritius is better for us,” Barbara Fock Tave - a nurse - told SNA.

 “Mauritius is cheaper, when we look at our currency the rupee is stronger than the Mauritius rupee, so we benefit. While in Reunion they use the euro which makes it too expensive for us” said Alain Ernesta who have been to Reunion once, not for holiday but rather for work.

Prisca Laure said that a promotion of what the island has to offer as a holiday destination is needed as people tend to know nothing of the island.

“With Mauritius, we know the story of Paul and Virginie. We know of the extinct bird - the dodo. We know of the soil with seven colours but we know virtually nothing of Reunion. We only hear of the island as having medical facilities and some people go there for treatment. And during the India Ocean Games, that is when we hear of the island.”

Reunion along with Seychelles – a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – share a lot in terms of culture and history.  Both are considered a melting pot of cultures with a mix race and ethnicity.

But Seychellois tend to like and travel more to Mauritius – another Indian Ocean island nation – compared to Reunion.

Figures from the Seychelles Bureau of Statistics show that for the first six months of 2017, 3258 visitors went to Mauritius compared to 323 who went to Reunion. For 2016, 6,370 residents visited Mauritius compared to 560 who went to Reunion.

Zahary explained that expatriates currently living Seychelles can also benefit from the promotion.

“It is also for expats here in Seychelles, who want to experience two different islands, nature and fun activities in Reunion with relaxation and seaside activities in Seychelles for example,” said Zahary. 

She said that they are also working with the airline – Air Austral – which flies direct to Seychelles from Reunion, to offer promotional airfares to Seychellois.  

The Seychelles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) is now in a better position to serve their mandate with the opening of their new and more spacious animal welfare shelter.

“More strays and unwanted puppies will now be able to be sheltered with the relocation of the society to Zone 20 of the Providence Industrial zone,” said Jimmy Marie, the office manager at society.

Before the opening of their new shelter at Providence - located on the eastern coast of the main island of Mahe - on February 6, the society was operating under the same roof as the veterinary services at Union Vale – on the outskirts of the capital city Victoria.

Marie said that space was a major Issue. Manpower was another problem the society was facing.

“One of our main problems was manpower but the expansion is providing us with the possibility of employing more people so that we can deliver more to the public,” said Marie.

At the moment there are two permanent staffs and a veterinarian working at the shelter while recruitment takes place. Built with the help of donations from local businesses, the shelter consists of 27 kennels, three surgery rooms and an office space.

The new shelter located at Providence was built with the help of local businesses. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

Created over ten years ago, SSPCA’s primarily focuses on rehoming, education and sterilization. With the opening of the new shelter the society is also venturing in boarding homes for pets when their owners are travelling.

“Right now we rely heavily on donations. Providing a boarding facility will help us generate money as we want to be self-funded,” said Marie.

Thirteen kennels will be set aside especially for this service. Fees are still being discussed as there are various issues to take in to consideration such as length of stay and who will be providing the food.

Continuing with previous services, the society takes in unwanted dogs, where they are given medical attention, and given shelter until they are adopted or taken to other shelters. For the time being, the society is sheltering only dogs, but this will be extended for cats later on as the facility expends.

The group also provide the public with a pet sterilization program with the aim of bringing down the number of unwanted puppies and kittens. Most of the time these unwanted pets end up as stray in the street, which is a problem for locals and visitors.

For the time being, the society is sheltering only dogs but will extend for cats later on. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

Sterilisation costs SCR350 ($25) and Marie said that soon they will start providing the public with a mobile service, where “we will be going directly to the districts with our sterilisation program as the shelter is far.”

As part of its activities, the SSPCA also goes to public and private schools of Seychelles – a group of islands in the western Indian Ocean - to educate children on how to treat animals.

“There is a tendency among the local children to hurt stray dogs while going home from school. They do not realise the stress and negative impact they are putting on the dogs. We want to change that,” said Marie.

The society has plans to host children at the welfare centre to spend some time with the dogs, walking and playing with them.

Even though the society and the veterinary services are no longer located under one roof, the two organisations will continue working together for the betterment of animals.

While Germany maintains its position as the Seychelles’ leading tourism market at the start of 2018, another German speaking market – Austria – is also showing that it has the potential to become an important market for the country.

After having sent 8,720 visitors to Seychelles in 2017, Austria has already sent 68 percent more tourists the island nation so far in 2018.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Austria is now the sixth leading market having sent 1,712 visitors to Seychelles up to February 11, 2018.

On top of being 68 percent above last year’s visitor numbers for the same period, this also represents a 118 percent increase over the 2016 figures.

It is to be noted that Austria received an added boost in air link to Seychelles at the end of October 2017, when its national carrier, Austrian Airlines, launched once-per-week non-stop flights to the Indian Ocean archipelago.

Subsequently, November and December recorded 1,183 and 1,074 Austrian visitors respectively, which were the largest number of visitors recorded from the Western Europe nation for the year 2017.

There is now high hopes that upcoming non-stop service from Zurich by Switzerland’s leisure airline, Edelweiss Air will help to further develop the Swiss tourism market, which is another German-speaking market.

Edelweiss Air is set to start once-weekly flight service between Switzerland and Seychelles on September 22, 2018.

Switzerland sent 12,422 visitors in 2017 and has so far sent 1,148 tourists to Seychelles so far in 2018, which is 32 percent above last year’s figure for the same period.

The Chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Sherin Francis said: “While it is definitely a bit premature to make any prediction, we do expect that the market will perform better with this added winter flight and extra efforts being invested to raise the Seychelles profile on the Swiss market.”

The STB Director for Germany, Austria & Switzerland, Edith Hunzinger said her office has indeed noticed huge interest in the destination from both Austria and Switzerland, through numerous emails and phone calls.

“This confirms that the intensive implementation of innumerable marketing activities during the past years are now showing the amazing and rewarding results,” said Mrs. Hunzinger.

The Seychelles Tourism Board Office in Frankfurt will be finalizing plans for more marketing activities, including workshops, media trips and consumer events to be undertaken in major cities, in both Austria and Switzerland, to further support and promote Austrian Airlines and Edelweiss Air.

These plans will be finalized during the upcoming ITB Berlin Travel Trade Show scheduled for March 7 to 11, 2018.

A conservation group from Anse Forbans has launched the first on-land coral nursery project to educate the community and act as a backup plan in case of a major seawater warming effect in Seychelles.

The chairperson of the Anse Forbans Community Conservation Programme, Lisa Booyse, said that Seychelles needs to be prepared as it is fast losing its corals to coral bleaching events and other issues such as human destruction, anchorage and marine pollution.

“It is essential that we maintain our corals for our livelihoods, fish stock and to protect our beaches from erosion and flooding. As a community, we all need to start to realise the situation,” said Booyse.

The project launched last week is an initiative of the Anse Forbans not-for-profit group from the southern Mahe district of Takamaka, in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles, DoubleTree Resort and Spa, and the Mauritius Commercial Bank. 

The Anse Forbans Community Conservation Programme. (Lisa Booyse) Photo License: CC-BY

The project has two sections: a sea nursery which includes planting of coral in the sea and will start soon, and a coral on-land nursery. In the on-land nursery, corals will be grown in tanks as a backup stock for the sea nursery in case Seychelles experiences another sea water warming effect like the ones which previously destroyed other sea nurseries.

The general manager of DoubleTree, Doreen D' Souza, said that as the project is based on the hotel premises, it is open for our guests or other guests to visit the project.

“Also, every Tuesday, we will organise a short talk with guests by one of the volunteers. During our management cocktail every Wednesday, the guests will have another chance to catch up with the project update as another volunteer will be present to give the update,” said D' Souza

The first bleaching catastrophe in Seychelles happened in 1998 when up to 97 percent of corals in some areas bleached and caused many reefs around the islands to collapse into rubble.

The chairperson of the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles, David Rowat, said that there is no coral bleaching around Seychelles as the sea temperatures are within normal range.

The coral reef report of the western Indian Ocean for 2017 said although Seychelles and Kenya suffered the greatest mortality of corals in 1998, since then they have shown good recovery of corals.

Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is more vulnerable to climate change as it is closer to the equator, making the water warmer than neighbouring islands Mauritius and Reunion, an overseas French department.

The chairperson of the Anse Forbans conservation group said the nursery will be used to educate the community on the importance of corals.

“I am hoping in the form of awareness and education for a quicker result. The corals will take 9 months before we can transplant them back into the ocean. But in the meantime, we need to spread the awareness of our actions and the impact it makes on corals,” said Booyse. 

The project has been funded by Mauritius Commercial Bank at a cost of $14,467 (SCR 200,000) to help in protecting the reef area for generations to enjoy.

Seychellois look to the sea for sustenance with an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.37 million square kilometres and fishing is the second top contributor to the island nation’s economy.

The signing of a revised agreement between Seychelles and India earlier this year will benefit both countries, a top official of the Indian High Commission said on Friday.

The Indian High Commissioner to Seychelles, Ausaf Sayeed, said the agreement will provide Seychelles with the opportunity to enhance its military capabilities and safeguard its marine zone.

“In return, India will benefit through better communication and safe trade in the region as most imports of goods pass through the Indian Ocean,” Sayeed told journalists. 

Seychelles and India signed the 20-year agreement in January that will enable the construction of military infrastructures on Assumption Island. The agreement aims at providing a framework for assistance to Seychelles by India.

Last Saturday, a group of 50 concerned citizens held a protest in Seychelles’ capital Victoria against the construction of a naval base on Assumption Island. 

A group of around 50 protested in the capital of Seychelles last Saturday. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

Ralph Volcere, one of the organisers of the protest, has told SNA that Seychellois do not want this project, as the details were not made public and another protest will take place this coming Saturday.

The Indian High Commissioner said that although the project is being financed entirely by India, Seychelles retains full ownership of the facilities and sovereign rights over the island.

He added that the project will jointly be managed by both countries and will not limit the movement of citizens to the island nor to the island of Aldabra as many are speculating.

The military base on Assumption will help enhance the military capabilities in control and maritime surveillance of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1.37 million square km of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. It will also ensure the protection of the EEZ and the outer islands, and search and rescue in the region for the benefit of air and shipping traffic.

The Seychelles Islands Foundation, the organisation mandated to protect the Aldabra atoll, one of Seychelles’ UNESCO World Heritage sites said in communiqué on Friday that “it is certain that an enforcement presence is needed in the area to cut down on and prevent illegal activities currently happening in the Aldabra Group.”

The organisation said that SIF assists with surveillance in the area, having the only regional boat operation that is equipped for rapid response, however, the staff on Aldabra have no legal mandate to intercept poachers and pirates operating in the area.

 “There are on average approximately 15 staff stationed on Aldabra and it is not realistic for this group to guard an area more than twice the size of Mahe without any support,” said SIF.

SIF added that it is “hopeful that the Government and National Assembly will ensure that the implementation of the agreement will benefit Aldabra, preserving the measures stipulated in the Aldabra Management Plan and taking SIF input into preventing harm to Aldabra from any threats as they arise.”

The project on Assumption will cover about a quarter of the remote island some 1,140 southwest of the Seychelles main island of Mahe.  

Public schools in Seychelles this year will be implementing an anti-bullying policy, and all parents will be asked to sign social contracts making them responsible and accountable for their child’s behaviour.

State schools will also be self-governed with minimal interference from the Ministry for Education and Human Resource Development.

Joel Morgan, minister for education and human resource development, gave details of these new changes to reporters last week.

Morgan said that state schools will gain autonomy but school management and councils will be accountable for schools’ performance.

“The ministry will have an oversight of the policy under the education act. The implementation and oversight of curriculum will stay with the ministry. We will also be responsible for the central procurement the purchasing of equipment and furniture in bulk.”

Morgan said that the “monitoring of standards and the setting of exams will also stay with headquarters.”

The minister said that the construction of big infrastructures such as new blocks will also remain with the ministry as schools do not have the capacity to oversee and manage such projects.

Christopher Lespoir, the chair of the council of the Plaisance Secondary School, said autonomy for schools was long overdue.

“The Ministry of Education faces a lot of challenges due to micromanagement as everything was being managed centrally. This led to delays and wastage of resources. Now the schools can run their administration, manage their budget as well as take care of repairs and maintenance. But one thing that all schools should beclear on is that autonomy comes with responsibility.”

Lespoir adds that now schools have to be at the forefront and make things happen instead of relying fully on the ministry.

2018 is also the last year that the Ministry of Education will appoint school councils.

“As of next year councils will be elected by parents. We want to democratise this, but we know some members by virtue of office will remain, for example, the head teacher and district authority,” said Morgan.

Lespoir said that schools should be free to choose council members. “We at Plaisance Secondary school have done this for two years now. Independently from the Ministry, we have selected our own council which is doing extremely well.”

Lespoir adds that the council elected are all people with a strong connection to the school. These include past students of the institution.

“We are all engaged in all aspects of the school life and this is why Plaisance School which was once a school with bad elements and lots of behavioural problems have turned around. In 2017, the school has excelled in sports and cultural activities. This year we want the school to excel academically.”

These new initiatives have been taken as a hands-on approach to tackle several problems facing state schools for some years now. There have been a lot of concerns raised over behavioural and disciplinary issues which many believe have resulted in low-level of performance.

The social contract which will not need any signature but rather will be a legal regulatory policy will also come in force this year in all state schools.

“In the regional meetings last year, we spoke a lot about this and we have received a lot of support as well as feedback. The social contract is at the Attorney General’s office. Once the drafting of the regulations is done, this will be taken to the cabinet of ministers and the national assembly before it becomes a regulation under the education act,” said Morgan.

The social contract will force parents and students to take responsibility for their actions and be held accountable for any unacceptable behaviour. Parents and students who fail to abide by the contract will be liable to a fine of up to R50,000 SCR or $3,628.

2018 will also see the implementation of the anti-bullying policy. “All schools will have to adopt this policy. It is an instructions guide for schools so that they know what to do in instances of bullying so that in the end all schools have the same comprehensive approach,” said Minister Morgan.

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