With a vast Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.37 million square kilometres, many of the inhabitants of Seychelles look to the sea for sustenance.

One of the important sea shelters for marine life are coral reefs, so protecting them is vital for the island nation of 93,000 inhabitants. With the growing adverse impact of human activities and climate change, Seychelles’ marine resources remain under threat, especially the coral reefs, which is why some organisations and establishments have come up with initiatives to restore them.

The below are four of the main coral reef restoration projects. 

 

Nature Seychelles restoration off Praslin

The coral restoration project of this organisation began in 2010 with the financial support of United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The project is the largest coral reef restoration program in the region, using more than 50,000 coral fragments which were grown in underwater nurseries for more than a year, off Praslin Island.

Choosing the coral fragments that had survived the destructive effects of the disruptive weather patterns brought about by El Niño  phenomenon in 1998, a group of marine ecologists embarked on creating an underwater nursery where nine different types of juvenile corals were planted and raised on ropes for almost a year, known as ‘the coral gardening’ method.

The long-term “success” of this mass transplantation is yet to be monitored but the project has already had a very positive knowledge-building impact.

 (Nature Seychelles) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

 

Four Seasons Resorts coral restoration project

The project began in March 2015 and aims at restoring 10,000 square metres of coral reef in Petite Anse bay, where the resort is located. The project is organised in close partnership with WiseOceans, a marine conservation and education company that works for healthier oceans.

The resort has made the coral reef rescue an interactive one with a mixture of romance and conservation. Called ‘Love grows beautiful things,’ newlywed couples celebrating an anniversary, or simply those on a romantic escape together at the resort, are given the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing reef restoration project.

Guests help prepare a rescued coral fragment for attachment to a heart-shaped metal frame (that will help sustain the growth of their coral) before it is planted into the coral nursery for a full recovery and eventual transplantation back to the reef. Under the expert guidance of Georgina Beresford, the WiseOceans Reef Restoration Project Officer, couples may also take to the water with WiseOceans to watch the planting of their fragment in the coral nursery, before a guided snorkel of the bay,

(Four Seasons) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

 

Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove coral restoration project

Created in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles, the interactive programme guided by marine experts helps guest discover a treasure trove of marine life around the island through a curated snorkelling experience.  Through the programme, guests can also experience an underwater art gallery or send an underwater postcard to friends and family.

Entitled, ‘Unlock the Sea,’ the programme is aimed at restoring the coral reef in the north-western coast of Mahe, the nation's main island. The project which is in its second phase is going to focus on the construction of nurseries outside the corals' natural environment. The process is expected to take between six to 12 months depending upon the size and the species of corals. 

In the restoration process, coral fragments or pieces of coral broken by storms, snorkelers, divers or anchoring boats are used as ‘corals of opportunity’. They are carefully collected and nurtured in coral nurseries in its natural population that have been set up exclusively for this purpose.

(Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove ) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

 

Cerf Island coral restoration project

This programme was founded in 2015 by the Cerf Island Conservation Programme and aims at rehabilitating the coral reef around the Cerf Island, located some 1.3km away from the main island Mahe. Cerf is one of five islands found in the St Anne Marine Park and it is home to at least three tourism establishments.

In a bid to maintain healthy reefs around the island, one of the ongoing projects of the Cerf Island Conservation Program is restoring the reefs using over 400 coral fragments rescued from the seabed following past and current bleaching events.

The programme is also getting the support of the private sectors and the Seychelles’ National Park Authority. Throughout the project, nurseries have been created out of ropes and pipes where the corals are reared for rehabilitation. Also, metal frames have been placed along the shallow reefs filled with resilient corals.

(Savinien Leblond, Cerf Island Conservation Program) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
Thursday, 21 September 2017 00:00

6 endangered birds that you can still see

Seychelles is a small island nation whose economy is largely dependent on protecting its natural environment for tourism. The island nation’s government and various organisations are working hard to ensure the protection of the species endemic to the Seychelles.

SNA looks at six endangered bird species found in the archipelago. 

 

1. Seychelles paradise flycatcher (vev)

This species is still critically endangered since it has an extremely small range and probably only one viable population persisting on an island where there has been a continuing decline in habitat.

After the successful reintroduction of birds to Denis Island, this species, which was more commonly found on La Digue, will warrant downlisting after five years if both populations are still self-sustaining.

Seychelles paradise flycatcher males have glossy black plumage with elongated tail feathers, while females are reddish-brown with pale underparts and short tail feathers. 

(Jeff Watson, Nature Seychelles) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

 

2. Seychelles warbler (pti merl dezil)

Once down to a mere 26 individuals, the population of the Seychelles warbler, known in Creole as ‘Pti merl dezil,’ has been downlisted from critically endangered to near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN's) red list of threatened species.

The small dull olive-and-brown coloured bird, with pale, buffish-yellow underparts and an obscure, buff eyebrow-stripe, has also been removed from BirdLife International’s Endangered Birds of the World list.

It is now found on five islands in Seychelles: Cousin, Cousine, Aride, Denis and Fregate and its population size is increasing owing to translocations and habitat management.

(Nature Seychelles) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

 

3. Seychelles magpie robin (pi santez)

The species is listed as endangered because its population is extremely small, although it is increasing following intensive conservation efforts including translocations. The total number of birds has risen significantly, although it remains one of the rarest birds in the world.

The conservation of the magpie robin, which has a glossy black plumage with a patch of white on its wings, has greatly improved, but it still relies on conservation management. The species was down listed from being critically endangered to endangered in 2005 after great efforts to increase its population.

The Seychelles magpie robin can be found on Frégate, Denis, Cousin, Cousine and Aride. 

(Nature Seychelles) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

 

4. Seychelles white eye (zwazo linet)

The species was regarded as one of the most endangered birds of the Seychelles until 1997 when a thriving population was discovered on Conception Island. After research was carried out, the species was successfully introduced to Fregate Island. The conservation goal for the white eye is to ensure its survival on at least three and ideally more islands in viable, self-maintaining populations.

This species remains threatened but has been downlisted to Vulnerable, because it still has a very small population and is found in only a very small number of locations.

The Seychelles white eye -- a small grey bird, paler beneath with a narrow white ring around each eye -- can be found on Mahe, Conception, Fregate, North Island and Cousine. 

 

 (Julie Gane) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

 

5. Seychelles scops owl (syer)

The Seychelles scops owl was thought to be extinct for many years until it was discovered by a Nature Seychelles team in 1999. A survey conducted found that most of its habitat is now within the Morne Seychellois National Park where it is relatively protected.

This species is listed as endangered because it has a tiny range, occurring at six locations making it susceptible to unpredictable events. At present, there are no serious threats to the species' survival.

The small brown owl with a two-note rasping (frog-like) call which is active at night is mainly found in highland forests of Mahe, so it is rarely seen. 

(Jeff Watson) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

 

6. Seychelles black parrot (kato nwanr)

This species, now that the national bird of Seychelles is recognised as a distinct species, by the Birdlife International. It can be seen in the Vallee de mai on Praslin, one of the Seychelles UNESCO World Heritage sites, and the neighbouring Praslin National Park.

The black parrot, not truly black but brown-grey in colour, is listed as Vulnerable because, although it appears to be stable or possibly increasing, its population remains very small, and therefore at risk from unpredictable events and human impacts.

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

Sustainable Tourism will be the main focus as Seychelles celebrates another Tourism Week. The 2017 Tourism Week will be celebrated from Tuesday, September 26, to Tuesday, October 3.

The Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), Mrs. Sherin Francis and the Tourism Department’s Director for Tourism Human Resource Development, Mr. Gerard Port-Louis, unveiled the program of activities on Monday. This was during a press conference held at the STB Headquarters at Botanical House, Mont Fleuri.

The annual Tourism Week in Seychelles is an extension of the annual World Tourism Day celebrated on September 27 and initiated by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Sustainable tourism – A tool for development is the theme chosen for the 2017 World Tourism Day, in line with the International Year on Sustainable Tourism for Development, declared by UNWTO.

One of the activities, which will be centered on sustainable tourism is a lecture themed “Tourism and the planet – How relevant is sustainable tourism to climate change issues.”

Speaking to the press, Mrs. Francis said: “When we talk about sustainable tourism we have to consider for example the issue of climate change and how the tourism industry is being impacted, especially in the small islands states and how we can adopt more sustainable practices for the future. These are some of the areas that will be debated upon during the lecture.”

The guest speaker for the lecture, which will be held on Monday, October 2, is a well-known personality within the global tourism sphere, Geoffrey Lipman, who is also the Advisor to the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization.

Sustainable tourism will also be encompassed in activities being planned by the Tourism Department. This includes an inter-school public speaking competition, as well as presentation of certificates to hotels that have met the criteria to obtain the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label. Two secondary schools have also been selected for talks focusing on the importance of tourism and enticing students to develop an interest in joining the industry.

One of the main activities being organized by the tourism department is an open day where it will be opening the doors of its various sections at the Botanical House, Mont Fleuri to the general public.

Mr. Port-Louis said: “We are having a walk-in open day and the public will be able to access all of our sections including the office of the Principal Secretary between 9 am and 3 pm. It will be an opportunity for school students, the general public to know more about the functions of the department. People wanting to venture into tourism related businesses can also come in for guidance.”

Both the Seychelles Tourism Board and Tourism Department will also be highlighting a new consumer-oriented campaign recently launched by UNWTO as part of their activities. The Travel, Enjoy Respect campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the value and contribution that sustainable tourism can make towards development.

Targeting various segments of the population, STB will also be running a series of quiz on the radio and its social media platforms. The traditional Tourism Ball, which allows tourism stakeholders to meet and network in a more relaxed atmosphere also features on the program. Tickets for the ball which will be held at Eden Bleu on Saturday, September 30, are already on sale at the STB office at independence House. The names of eight tourism personalities who have contributed immensely towards the country’s tourism industry, but who have since passed away, will also be unveiled during the Tourism Ball. Their names will be engraved at the Tourism Pioneer Park at the Seychelles Tourism Academy in a ceremony to be held on Monday, October 2.

Visitors to the Seychelles shores will also be treated to a special welcome during the Tourism week, as they will be greeted with live music and giveaways at the airport.

The Tourism Week will come to an end on Tuesday, October 3, with the launching of a new awareness campaign, which will run for a whole year. STB is developing the campaign in correlation with the Ministry for Tourism, Civil Aviation and Ports Authority and the support of other stakeholders.

Mrs. Francis said: “The campaign will be both inward looking and outward looking. Inwardly, we want to target the local population where we will use the campaign to educate and talk about issues affecting the tourism industry as well as talk about the positives and further build on them. The campaign will also be stretched to our international markets and further details of the campaign will be given on the closing date of the tourism week.”

The President of Seychelles Danny Faure and more than 100 other heads of states attended the first ever meeting hosted at the United Nations by Donald Trump, the President of the United States, a communiqué from State House said on Tuesday.

The U.S president hosted his first meeting with world leaders on Monday and advocated for reforms of the United Nations. 

According to the New York Times, Trump praised the UN Secretary General António Guterres for tackling mismanagement and bureaucracy. 

“And I am confident that if we work together and champion truly bold reforms, the United Nations will emerge as a stronger, more effective, more just and greater force for peace and harmony in the world,” wrote the New York Times.

Faure also attended a private sector forum hosted by Secretary-General Guterres which gathered leading chief executives, investors, civil society representatives, heads of state and senior UN leadership, to identify opportunities to work together to achieve shared objectives.

This year’s forum was under the theme ‘Financing the 2030 Agenda: Unlocking Prosperity.’ The aim was to find new ways of funding the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Members of the Seychelles’ delegation participated in other meetings. The Foreign Secretary of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, Claude Morel, attended the meeting of foreign ministers of La Francophonie and had bilateral talks with Maldives and Pakistan.

Other members attended high-level events on small island developing states (SIDS) in solidarity with the countries and territories hit by Hurricane Irma and the forthcoming COP23 climate change conference in Bonn in November.

President Faure and his delegation visited and met with the staff of the Seychelles Permanent Mission to the United Nations.  

Monday, 18 September 2017 00:00

Seychelles to turn seaweed into fertiliser

A new factory on Praslin, the second-most populated island in Seychelles, is launching a new and innovative way to manage and make better use of seaweed: turning it into agricultural fertiliser.

Bernard Port-Louis told SNA that the business, called ‘Seaweed Seychelles,’ is the brainchild of his son Benjamin.

“He is currently in his final year at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia and has always believed in the sustainable development of our islands. So we have decided to develop the factory,” Port-Louis said.

“This new seaweed harvesting business will be collecting washed up seaweed, and processing it to extract the organic matter in liquid form,” he said, adding that seaweed will be collected from the inner islands.

The new factory, located on the man-made Eve island of Praslin, is expected to be operational in two months.(Bernard Port-Louis) Photo License: CC-BY

Seaweeds are aquatic plants that live attached to rock or other hard substance in coastal areas, and the most common type found on the Seychelles beaches is ocean algae “sargassum” along with the sea grass. This happens on a large-scale during the south-east monsoon -- May to October -- when the sea is rough, and the algae are torn from the seabed and end up in piles on the beach.

The seaweed is not only an eyesore but is smelly and attracts flies which pose as a nuisance for people, especially beach visitors. In some areas where this problem is severe locals are contracted to clean and dispose of the seaweed.

The new factory, located on the man-made Eve island of Praslin, is near completion and Port-Louis said it is expected to be operational in two months.

Seaweed Seychelles will produce up to 8,000 litres of seaweed liquid per day, and according to Port-Louis, this will be sold to farmers as fertiliser.  

Port-Louis said: “Once the liquid is extracted, the solid leftovers of the algae will be grounded to powder to produce soil conditioner, to ensure that there is no waste and all by products are fully utilised.”

This new venture has been endorsed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation which is the federal government agency for scientific research in Australia.

The factory will be using green energy for all its operations and installed a solar hot water system that can produce 4000 litres of hot water and a 12-kilowatt photovoltaic solar system to produce electricity for the daily running operation.

Seaweed is not only an eyesore but is smelly and attracts flies which pose as a nuisance for people, especially beach visitors. (Romano Laurence)  Photo License: CC-BY

According to an article in the 12th edition of the Saint Ange tourism report, "the accumulation of seaweed on some of the beaches (on Praslin) has become a serious issue, posing a great challenge for hoteliers who have been trying to market Seychelles as having white sandy beaches, and crystal clear waters."

Seaweed harvesting for processing is new in the Seychelles’ archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The region, on the other hand, is known for seaweed farming, where this practice is common in Zanzibar, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mauritius.

Eggs are the only food that Seychelles is not importing, and there are three main reasons why an agricultural ministry official said. 

“Importation is sometimes based on if you can get a competitive price on the goods you are importing. As the price remains relatively low, obviously this will discourage anyone from importing if they can’t compete with the low price on the market," the principal secretary of agriculture, Antoine Moustache, told SNA.

The average cost of an egg goes up to $0.2 (SCR 3), dropping down to half the price depending on the number of sellers available in the market at the time of sale.

Moustache said that even if there are shortages on the local market, it doesn’t last long as sellers will always have it back on time on the market.

With the continuous availability, egg provides no demand for importation and the principal secretary said that another factor is that it is difficult to transport eggs from overseas as they damage easily.

As the ministry of Agriculture is working on new plans and developments in the various agricultural sectors, Moustache said the authorities are working laboriously to get the country to be self-sufficient in other areas such as meat production.

Seychelles Cabinet of Ministers approved a National Livestock policy for the period 2017 to 2027 on Wednesday, August 23 to strengthen the institutional framework for better service delivery, reinforce capacities along the livestock value chains and improve production, productivity and competitiveness of the livestock sector.

The senior livestock officer of the Seychelles Agricultural Agency, Alejandra Hoareau, said while consumption of poultry product has increased in Seychelles in the last decade, only egg production is in line with the demand. 

According to the Seychelles Agricultural Agency, 29 farmers are listed as egg producers but only 23 are active. Six have stop production since they could not cope with high production costs.

The average cost of an egg goes up to $0.2 (SCR 3), dropping down to half the price depending on the number of sellers available in the market at the time of sale. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

From the 29 egg producers listed in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, six are producing on a large scale and their production might be estimated at over 22 million eggs for the current year.

The figures of 2015 showed that Seychelles produced around 29 million eggs and that increased to 37 million in 2016.

A poultry farm owner, Cliff Loizeau, from Bel Ombre, a northern Mahe district is producing eggs on a large scale and told SNA,“We have about 25,000 laying hens producing 500 trays of eggs per day.”

He added that “although the farm can collect up to $44,600 (SCR600,000) per month, a significant part of the revenue is reinvested in the operating costs such as transportation and animal feed.”

Another poultry farm owner of eight years, Cyril Roucou, told SNA that the industry faces a major challenge in employing local workers and it is a tough and expensive industry to manage.

The Seychelles Agricultural Agency shares the concern and feels that more must be done to protect and develop this sector.

“The government should come up with a protection policy for that sector since small farmers are not in a position to withstand the new scenario,” said Hoareau senior livestock officer.

When it comes to egg production, the senior livestock officer said that even though the overall output is positive there are necessities to be addressed.

Hoareau said, “Farmers are asked to invest in new technologies to make production more competitive thereof more accessible to consumers in term of price and quality.” 

Looking ahead, Hoareau said, “We are challenged to provide the national market with 70 percent of local-produced poultry meat and to continue with a stable egg production, there needs to be updated technology and infrastructure.” 

Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, provides fertile feeding grounds for five species of turtles. The islands are nesting grounds for only two species who according to local expert Jeanne Mortimer find the Seychelles safe enough to lay their eggs.

Sea turtles in Seychelles are protected under the Wild Animals and Birds Protection Act, and the poaching and killing of the species are illegal. 

While the species nesting in Seychelles can be seen often, the others are not so easy to find. 

SNA details the five species that feed in the islands. 

 

Hawksbill

Named because of their narrow pointed beaks, hawksbill turtles lay their eggs in daylight in Seychelles. Seychellois turtle expert Jeanne Mortimer said that the nesting sites of this species have been heavily exploited so much globally, that Seychelles and Chagos islands -- 1,500 kilometres east of Seychelles -- are the among the only two places where they “feel safe enough” to nest in daytime.

The best islands for visitors to see nesting hawksbills are Bird, Denis, Cousin, Cousine, North Island, Alphonse and Fregate islands, also. Also in the south of Mahe and at Lemuria Hotel on Praslin. Juvenile (foraging) hawksbills can be seen throughout Seychelles underwater when snorkelling or SCUBA diving.

Hawksbill is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due mostly to human impact. The species grow up to about 114.9 centimetres in shell length and 68. 75 kilograms in weight and their carapace is covered by thick scales.have a strikingly coloured carapace and while young. 

(Jeanne Mortimer) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

 

Green turtle

This species is also listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature, (IUCN) red list. The best place to see them is Aldabra, Cosmoledo, Astove, and Farquhar atolls. The adult green turtles are most likely seen in the outer islands like in the Amirantes group, and a few nest in the inner islands where , but they are now very rare due to overexploitation for their meat. 

Like the hawksbill, juvenile (foraging) green turtles can be seen throughout Seychelles underwater when snorkelling or SCUBA diving.

The second largest after the leatherback, the green turtle can weigh up to 225 kilos and reach 113 centimetres in length. The adult is a herbivore, dining on sea grasses, seaweeds, algae and other forms of marine plant life.

In Seychelles, green turtles are threatened mostly by people killing them for meat and by loss of nesting beach sites caused by coastal development. Other global threats to the species are overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, and being caught in fishing gear. Green turtles travel huge distances between their feeding sites and nesting sites, with mature turtles often returning to the exact beach from where they hatched.

(Seychelles Island Foundation) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

 

Loggerhead

Loggerhead turtle is named for its large head that supports powerful jaw muscles, allowing it to crush hard-shelled prey like clams and sea urchins. Loggerheads are less likely to be hunted for their meat or shell compared to other sea turtles.

In Seychelles, loggerheads are occasionally encountered in the outer islands on feeding grounds, but they do not nest.

It is listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The greatest threat is entanglement in fishing gear, the loss of nesting habitat due to coastal development, predation of nests, and human disturbances.

(Guy Esparon) Photo License: CC-BY

 

Leatherback

Leatherbacks are the largest turtles on earth, growing up to almost 200 centimetres in shell length and 900 kg in weight. It is the only remaining representatives of a family of turtles that traces its evolutionary roots back more than 150 million years.

While all other sea turtles have hard, bony shells, the inky-blue carapace of the leatherback is somewhat flexible and almost rubbery to the touch hence its name. They can be found in the tropic and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, the Indian Ocean as well as the Mediterranean Sea. They nest in tropical areas, but not in Seychelles.

The species is able to maintain warm body temperatures in cold water by using a unique set of adaptations that allow them to both generate and retain body heat. Many leatherbacks meet an early end due to human activity.  The biggest threats are entanglement in fishing gear, egg collection, and destruction of nesting beaches by coastal development.

Uzice Samedi, Island Conservation Society) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

 

Olive Ridley

The olive ridley named for the generally greenish colour of its skin and shell or carapace is the smallest of the sea turtles, weighing up to 45 kg and reaching only about 60 centimetres in shell length. Olive ridleys are found only in warmer waters, including the southern Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

These turtles are solitary, preferring the open ocean and migrate hundreds or even thousands of miles every year, and come together as a group only once when females return to the beaches where they hatched and lumber onshore, sometimes in the thousands, to nest.

Although the species is widely considered the most abundant of the sea turtles, by all estimates, it is in trouble as its numbers, particularly in the western Atlantic, have declined precipitously. The greatest threat is entanglement in fishing gear.

(Richard Jeanne, Island Conservation Society) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

The charity group ‘Make a Child Smile’ is bringing in eye specialists from the United States to assist residents in Seychelles whose visions are impaired, said the founder of the group. 

Clifford Mondon made the statement last week when receiving a donation from the talent show organised by the Miss Seychelles pageant.

“Low vision specialists from Maryland are expected on the islands by early next year for consultations. Their visit will give the opportunity to children and adults with vision impairment the hope of being able to see by making use of their special vision aids and other forms of technologies,” said Mondon.

Clifford Mondon (first left) received a donation raised through the sale of tickets for the talent show organised by the Miss Seychelles pageant. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

Vision Care Seychelles, a local optometrist, will provide space at its clinic where the tests will be conducted.

Mondon said he hopes that this will be the beginning of a partnership which will provide these tests on a more regular basis and supply the vision aids which will be brought in from the U.S.

“I know that this can be a life changing experience and already one young Seychellois, Auria Barbe, has benefited from these vision aids,” he said.

Mondon added that Make a Child Smile will also assist one contestant with her project -- Ella Marie – who is working with a boy who has no eyes due to cancer. The little boy is expected to be seen by the American specialists.

Ella Marie who was one of the contestants on stage during the Talent show. Make a Child Smile will assist her with her project. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

For the first time this year, the contestants of the Miss Seychelles pageant organised a talent show to raise funds for charity. The donation totalling to $2,876 (SCR39,600) was raised through the sale of tickets for the show held earlier this month.

The chief executive of the Creative Industries and National Events Agency, Galen Bresson, said that it was the agency’s vision for the beauty pageant to be something meaningful and goes beyond the night of the crowning.

“It was an innovative thing that this year’s pageant came up with. We are very happy to have made a child smile and next year it can with the same group or another. We still hope to do something meaningful for the community especially the less privileged," Bresson said.

The chief executive added that “I also wish to highlight that it is the 14 contestants who individually contributed towards this cause, giving the pageants’ motto ‘beauty with a purpose’ its full meaning."

Miss Seychelles 2017 is Hillary Joubert, who won the crown on Saturday. Petra Tamatave was crowned the 1st Princess and Serah Jumaye 2nd Princess, in the ceremony held at the Avani Seychelles Barbarons Resort and Spa.   

The Seychelles' national airline has launched a new product that will give its clients the chance to enjoy Mahe, the main island, from a bird’s eye view.

Dubbed ‘Scenic Flights’, the new endeavour by Air Seychelles will give air travellers the panoramic experience by flying at a low altitude over the main island of the archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

“This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we are confident it will appeal to both residents and international visitors who are looking to explore Seychelles from the air,” said Roy Kinnear, chief executive of Air Seychelles.

Kinnear added that at a low altitude, the “service will provide breathtaking views of many famous sights and landmarks of north Mahe, from stunning beaches to the verdant rolling hills of the national park, all framed by the Indian Ocean.”

The 30-minute flight onboard a Twin Otter DHC-6 400 takes off from the Seychelles International Airport at Pointe Larue, on the eastern coast of Mahe. It gives people on board the 19-seater plane a tour of North Mahe with Cerf, Moyenne and Ste Anne islands visible to the right.

The flight goes over the capital, Victoria, along the northern coastline and veers to the northwest, passing over Anse Major, the Baie Ternay Marine Park and Port Launay. The flight provides unparalleled views of the Morne Seychellois national park before circling back at Grand Anse beach.

The product was developed with the assistance of the Seychelles Civil Association Authority (SCAA), which helped design the low altitude routes.

Also involved in its creation were local companies Mason’s Travel, Seven degrees South, Creole Travel Services, Seychelles European Reservation and Ephelia Resort - who will also be the key distributors of the flights.

“It was very nice to fly on a scenic tour, and discovering Mahe and the neighbouring islands from above is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the islands in a very short time,” said Emeline Dorby, the sales executive of the groups and incentives department of Mason’s Travel.

Dorby was part of a group onboard the first flight that took off on Wednesday, August 16, to experience the scenic flights firsthand.

She added that the flight will be a great addition to the activities that tourists already can experience. Visitors are always looking for something new to explore, and Dorby commented that she can “see more and bigger families being able to ride together.”

At the moment, discussions are still ongoing on the price and the date for the first flight. The operation of the panoramic flights will depend on sales, and 11 passengers are the minimum number for a flight. 

Bookings can be made through the national airline by calling number +248 4391000 and the DMCs, where more information can also be provided.  

A second book on the Vallee de Mai, a protected reserve that is home to the world's biggest nut and one of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Seychelles, has been published 25 years after the first book.

The new 74-page book -- ‘The Vallee de Mai (Seychelles)’ -- is co-authored by Danish national Steen G. Hansen and Seychellois Victorin Laboudallon, a leader in environmental conservation in the island nation.

The ‘Vallee de Mai (Seychelles)’ sheds light on one of the most visited locations of the archipelago, one that exudes natural beauty but also begs for protection against natural and human interference.

“In a hot spot like this, there was a need for a small book, nothing scientific but something that can be both a souvenir and a practical guide,” said Steen Hansen, one of the co-authors.

Located on Praslin, the second-most populated island of the western Indian Ocean archipelago, the Vallee de Mai was declared a World Heritage site in 1983 by the United Nations EducationalScientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Covering over 19 hectares of land, and home to the world’s biggest nut -- the coco de mer -- the site is managed by the Seychelles Island Foundation.

The last publication dates back to 1992, entitled ‘Vallee de Mai.’ It was produced by two Seychellois -- Lindsay Chong Seng and Katy Beaver.

Wanting to follow in their footsteps, this new version has merged some ideas of the first publication by including, for example, a folded map as a reference.

The authors also take readers through a long walk in the still pristine forest, an epitome of the Garden of Eden.

“Through each short chapter, the readers are instructed on what to look out for in order to spot the most sought after creatures -- from the black parrot’s nest to the white slugs -- and this, without the assistance of an expert eye,” Victorin Laboudallon told SNA.

New book on Seychelles' Vallee de Mai spotlights natural wonder, world's biggest nut

 The new 74-page book, ‘The Vallee de Mai (Seychelles),’ is co-authored by Danish national Steen G. Hansen and Seychellois Victorin Laboudallon. (Seychelles News Agency). 

A well-known retired environment guru, Laboudallon’s insight and years of experience in the field is reflected in many pages of the book such as the detailed and lengthy chapter on the complicated life cycle of the coco de mer.

Laboudallon’s vision of conservation is also prominent as he references projects being undertaken to safeguard the forest which is believed to have remained free from human interference for millions of years.

The project has been well received by inhabitants of Praslin, which relies heavily on their natural assets to support a booming tourism industry.

“A great book that will be enjoyed by everyone with a passion for nature,” said Brigitte Lesperance.

The Vallée de Mai book can be bought in Seychelles for around $22 (SCR300).  

The publication is the third project for Laboudallon and Hansen, who have previously published a book on the flora of Seychelles.

After an updated version, it was followed a few years later by a small book on the plants, reptiles and birds of Aride Island, another nature reserve of the island nation.

The authors are currently working on their fourth project, which will be a first ever book on Curieuse, a designated marine national park since 1979.  

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