Back from the dead – the Aldabra Snail

ALDABRA BANDED SNAIL ‘RETURNS FROM THE DEAD

(Posted 03rd September 2014)

The Aldabra Atoll, since 1982 one of the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Seychelles islands, is, as said here before, the remaining piece of the original Garden of Eden. The atoll, large enough for the entire island of Mahe to fit inside the lagoon, has for over 30 years been set aside for research and limited tourism visits, today an invaluable resource for mankind to study the effects of global warming, climate change and rising ocean levels.

But even on Aldabra did in 2007 a species go extinct, when the Aldabra Banded Snail, scientific name Rhachistia Aldabrae, was considered lost and gone after not being sighted for several years.

Unlike the Mauritius Dodo however did the snail just make a huge comeback when the science team on the island re-discovered the snail recently, took pictures and documented its miraculous return to the living species, a cause for celebration among the team, the Seychelles Island Foundation which manages Aldabra and the global scientific community. It was, according to information received from Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles, a young member of the research team based on the atoll, who went through the bush on Malabar Island, one of several making up the atoll, only to stumble across the snail on a tree. Shane Brice is credited with the rediscovery though more senior team members called to the site first verified the snail to be indeed the Aldabra Banded Snail, seen with off spring nearby giving hope that the once thought lost species will make a lasting comeback.

Seychelles’ Island Foundation CEO Frauke Fleischer-Dogley was quoted to have told local media in Victoria, after the re-discovery was confirmed, that: ‘…despite major global environmental threats like climate change, this discovery shows that investments into protecting unique island biodiversity are well-placed. This snail provides hope for other island species, of which we have already lost too many. I hope that those of the international community, who are meeting at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, take note that their investment is needed to generate such success. Nature has a resilience that may surprise us’.

Originally found on all five islands the atoll is made up of, the re-discovery on Malabar will now lead to further searches on the other islands of Picard, Esprit, Grand Terre and Polymnie to find out if by any chance some of them have survived there too.

The find confirms that the policy of the Seychelles government, to set aside over half of its territory for conservation in terrestrial and marine national parks and nature reserves, has been a sound investment in the future and may yet become a yardstick for many other countries to review their own environmental protection policies.

Less than a thousand people a year normally visit Aldabra, after first obtaining special permission and permits from the SIF offices in Victoria, all anchoring offshore from the atoll on their ships with only day visits allowed to expore the lagoon and the islands where massive numbers of giant sea turtles, among many other marine species, as well as a unique bird life, can be observed. For added information about the Seychelles Island Foundation visit www.sif.sc and for more details about Destination Seychelles click on www.seychelles.travel

Seychelles, truly Another World.

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