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Seychelles' conservationists re-home 50 Aldabra giant tortoises on Aride Island

Victoria, Seychelles | June 21, 2024, Friday @ 12:42 in Environment » CONSERVATION | By: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 4139
Seychelles' conservationists re-home 50 Aldabra giant tortoises on Aride Island

The translocation process, supported by the Indian Ocean Tortoise Alliance (IOTA), was made possible by a private donor. (Island Conservation Society) 

Photo license  

The Island Conservation Society (ICS), a non-profit environmental organisation in Seychelles, has successfully re-homed 50 Aldabra giant tortoises on Aride Island.

According to the ICS, this was made possible following a generous donation by a private donor based on Mahe, the main island. The tortoises, weighing between 1.5 to 4 kilogrammes, were previously being raised in captivity and have now been allowed to live a free-roaming life in their new environment. The largest population of Aldabra giant tortoises, which are endemic to Seychelles, live in the wild on the Aldabra Atoll in the southern part of the archipelago.

The translocation process, supported by the Indian Ocean Tortoise Alliance (IOTA), involved micro-chipping each tortoise and recording their vital details, including size measurements and weight. The tortoises were transported via a 15-minute helicopter ride to Aride Island, a granitic island located approximately 9 km north of Praslin, the second most populated island.  

The tortoises, weighing between 1.5 to 4 kilogrammes, were microchipped. (Island Conservation Society) Photo License: CC-BY 

This is the second group of tortoises to be translocated to Aride by ICS. Previously, 10 tortoises were brought to the island from Fregate Island and have been roaming free since their arrival. The introduction of the new tortoises is expected to enhance the island's ecosystems and improve its scientific value.

"Tortoises are ecosystem engineers, which means they bring significant ecological benefits to an area, simply by aiding in seed dispersal and vegetation management," said Greg Berke, director of Science and Conservation at ICS.

"For Aride, which has a small population of magpie robins (Pi santez in Creole), this is an added bonus as the tortoises will help with their foraging activities. They do this by disturbing the leaf litter and topsoil so that insects are exposed and the magpie robin can forage more efficiently," he added.

Upon arrival on Aride, the tortoises, which have been marked and numbered, were initially placed in a pen for monitoring. This will also serve as a quarantine period to ensure that any seeds that the tortoises may have consumed on Mahe are not spread into the pristine ecosystem of Aride.

The tortoises were transported via a 15-minute helicopter ride to Aride Island. (Island Conservation Society) Photo License: CC-BY 

While in the pen, the tortoises will be fed regularly and closely observed until they can be released into the wild.

According to a press statement from ICS, this initiative aligns with the organisation's ongoing efforts to enhance biodiversity and promote conservation in the outer islands of Seychelles. The successful re-homing of these tortoises not only provides them with a better habitat but also contributes to the ecological richness of Aride Island.

The ICS is dedicated to the conservation of island ecosystems, promoting sustainable development and environmental education across the Seychelles. Through various projects and initiatives, the non-governmental organisation works to protect and restore the unique biodiversity of the islands.

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Tags: Island Conservation Society, Aldabra Giant Tortoises, Indian Ocean Tortoise Alliance

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