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Flora & Fauna/ The Seychelles Eco-Experience/ Eco-Tourism

Seychelles’ 115 islands have existed in their secluded corner of the Indian Ocean since 150 million years, when the landmass that was Gondwanaland left behind a tiny underwater continent whose highest peaks we know today as the Seychelles Islands.

Today, they have retained much of their Gondwanan character, existing as a chain of Noah’s Arks and harbouring some of the rarest species of flora & fauna on the planet. Today, the islands, justifiably, form a part of the Western Indian Ocean Biodiversity Hotspot.

Seychelles boasts two UNESCO World Heritage sites. The extraordinary primeval valley known as the Vallée de Mai, where grows the legendary, double-lobed coconut the Coco-de-Mer. And magnificent Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll with its population of some 150,000 giant land tortoises and many other treasures besides.

The panoply of trees covering the 41 granitic islands and 1500 species of flowering plants, contain some of the rarest specimens on the planet. These include the amazing Jellyfish Tree, of which only a handful of specimens remain, the carnivorous pitcher plant and 75 other species of rare, endemic plant-life. Much of Seychelles’ extraordinary biodiversity may be discovered on its extensive network of guided walks and trails as well as in its National Parks.

Seychelles is an ornithologist’s paradise. Several islands are home to birds found only there, and nowhere else. On Praslin, the famous Seychelles Black Parrot can still be found flitting among the palms of the Vallée de Mai. La Digue island is host to another rare endemic bird, the Paradise Fly-Catcher.

Mahé’s forests provide sanctuary for yet another of the world’s rare birds, the Bare-Legged Scops Owl, thought to have become extinct for more than a century, before being rediscovered in 1959. Altogether, the islands are home to 13 species and 17 sub-species of birdlife which occur nowhere else in the world. Several of the archipelago’s islands are nature reserves in their own right, showcasing rare birdlife and other prized species. Seychelles’ eco attractions are not confined to birds as its population of those extraordinary reptiles, the Giant Land Tortoise, is the largest in the world. Apart from the indigenous population on Aldabra, there are many other specimens, and rare species of tortoise, dotted about the islands.

Other native reptiles include the Freshwater Terrapin, the Seychelles Tiger Chameleon as well as several species of Skink and Gecko. The only native mammals in Seychelles are bats: the Seychelles Fruit Bat and the Sheath-Tailed Bat. Interesting insects include the endemic grasshopper, well-camouflaged stick insects, of which there are 5 endemic species, and the endemic tenebrionid beetle, found on Frégate Island.

Marine life in Seychelles is prolific. Seychelles’ several Marine National Parks offer an ideal introduction to the underwater delights of the Inner Islands as there exists a surprising abundance of fish, even on shallow inshore reefs.

Due to its extreme isolation, Seychelles has received more than its fair share of Nature’s bounty and today, with nearly half its limited landmass set aside as nature reserves, the ecological integrity of its islands remains intact – providing the visitor with some of the most unique ecological experiences to be found anywhere.

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