ALDABRA TO GET MAHE BASED VISITOR CENTRE AS IT CELEBRATES 30 YEARS AS WHS
The Seychelles Island Foundation, custodian of the archipelago’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, has on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of having the Aldabra Atoll recognized by the world body, announced the construction of Aldabra House at Roche Caiman on the main island of Mahe.
The SIF Chairman Ambassador Maurice Lousteau-Lalanne made the announcement in the presence of President James Michel, whose presence once again underscored the commitment of the island state to conservation measures, belying recent allegations of ‘green washing’ by sections of the media. Also present on the occasion was the Seychelles’ Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St. Ange, the CEO of SIF Mrs. Frauke Fleischer-Dogley and members of the diplomatic corps, among other invited guests, to celebrate both Aldabra as well as the country’s conservation record.
The income from the second UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Vallee de Mai on the island of Praslin, is to a large extent used to support research, monitoring, surveillance and conservation on Aldabra, an atoll almost 1.200 kms distant from Mahe which can only be reached by a combination of air and sea travel, keeping visitor numbers low and the fragile environment, at times described as a remnant of the Garden of Eden, literally untouched.
Expeditions to Aldabra, where the population of the giant sea tortoises is a multiple of the better known Galapagos Islands and reportedly stands at about 100.000 at certain times of the year, are rare and only once have visitors numbers reached 1.000 per annum, before the global economic crisis struck and Somalia’s ocean terrorists made the sea lanes unsafe. Regular fund raising is taking place in both France and in the Seychelles, to maintain the presence of a small team of researchers based on Aldabra who collect crucially important information on the effects of climate change, rising ocean levels and their effect on marine life.
The announcement by the Seychelles Island Foundation has been largely hailed across the archipelago and abroad as the new building will then offer a showcase of Aldabra on the main island, for all those who cannot ever make it to the atoll in person. Congratulations on the 30th anniversary of attaining UNESCO WHS status, to the board, management and staff of SIF.
Getting there: By air from Mahe International Airport to Assumption Island, STOL capable concrete airfield of 3.963 x 41 ft with GPS data available through SCAA and SATC, and then 3+ hours by boat each way weather permitting, to be arranged in advance through the Seychelles Island Foundation offices in Victoria, or else by supply boat or private yacht or explorer cruisers, anchoring off shore as there are no sleeping quarters to be had for ordinary tourist visitors. Permission / clearance to visit must be pre-arranged through the Seychelles Island Foundation in Victoria and immigration procedures, for those travelling there from abroad, must be followed ahead of landing on Aldabra. Visit www.sif.sc or www.seychelles.travel for more information about the atoll or look up this correspondent’s feature article from October 2011: www.wolfganghthome.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/seychelles-conservation-story-aldabra-the-apple-of-the-eye-in-the-garden-of-eden/