A sanctuary for breeding tortoises is the goal for Seychellois entrepreneur
Dolor Ernesta has been breeding tortoises for the past 23 years and has a sanctuary at Sans Soucis. (Salifa Magnan,Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A local entrepreneur with a love for tortoises hopes to set up a sanctuary and start a breeding business.
Dolor Ernesta, who has been breeding tortoises for the past 23 years, said, “I have tortoises from 1 to 100 years old. I also have eggs which have not hatched and many people have never seen tortoise eggs. I also have their skeletal remains, so why not display all of these in a sort of museum, as part of a sanctuary for these gentle species?”
Coming from La Digue, the third-most populated island of Seychelles, Ernesta told SNA that he has always loved tortoises. It was in 1994 that he started caring for the species. He got a license five years ago and started his breeding business.
|Ernesta says he has tortoises from 1 to 100 years old. (Salifa Magnan,Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
“There is only about four or five of us who are currently breeding tortoises for exportation and I have good knowledge about these species in terms of their life cycle. I am also thinking of modernising my facilities and in the process of getting a proper incubator, to facilitate the hatchlings,” said Ernesta.
The local entrepreneur said that the refuge will also have an educational purpose which will help with the awareness and sensitisation on the protection and conservation of these tortoises.
“With that, there will be an education component where there will be different products made from photos of tortoises, possibly in 3D. I am still exploring different possibilities,” he said.
Ernesta has established contact with a zoo in the Netherlands where he has sent small tortoises. He is targeting only zoos for exportation so that the tortoise will not be trafficked but instead used for conservation and educational purposes.
|With the sanctuary, visitors will have the chance to interact with the tortoises, a species which walked the earth millions of years before men.(Salifa Magnan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
“I have exported 25 small ones to this zoo and I hope to visit them next year to see how they are fairing. But for now, I hear that they are doing well. I know that there are a lot of adult tortoises in different parks in the world but you rarely see juveniles,“ he said.
The next step, Ernesta added is to set up a website and from there on, engage with zoos so that they can display the tortoises.
The local entrepreneur has a tortoise pen at Sans Soucis, located some 15 minutes drive up the hill from the capital Victoria. It is a popular spot for tourists, who often stop to take photographs.
Ernesta said that with the sanctuary, visitors will have the chance to interact with the tortoises, a species which walked the earth millions of years before men.
Giant tortoises are currently found on two groups of tropical islands -- the Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean.