Seychelles is an isolated archipelago of outstanding natural beauty comprising 115 islands. 35 islands of the "Inner Islands Group" are granitic, rocky and hilly with narrow coastal strips. The other islands are coralline and flat with elevated reefs.
The islands lie in the western part of the Indian Ocean, north of Madagascar and 1,593km (995 miles) east of Mombasa, Kenya. It is between 4 and 5 degrees south of the equator at a longitude between 55 and 56 degrees east.
The granite islands support luxuriant tropical forest on the mountain slopes. The coral islands are also densely covered with vegetation more characteristic of sandy coral soils
Tree species include the coconut palm, casuarina, banyans, screw pines and tortoise trees. The giant "coco de mer" palm, is indigenous to the Seychelles and lives for up to 1,000 years. The jellyfish tree, having only eight surviving examples left is another rarity only found in the Seychelles. Of about 200 plant species, 80 are indigenous, including the "bois rouge", the giant "bois de fer" and the "capucin."
Fruit bats, flying foxes, geckos and skinks are common and there are more than 3,000 species of insect. The giant tortoise (which appears on the Seychelles coat of arms) survived near-extinction; there are now over a hundred thousand on Aldabra Island. There are many species of rare bird, such as the bare-legged scops owl, Seychelles kestrel, black parrot, magpie, robin and paradise flycatcher.
With almost 50% of its limited landmass set aside as national parks and reserves, Seychelles prides itself on its record for far sighted conservation policies that have resulted in an enviable degree of protection for the environment and the varied ecosystems it supports. Four islands of the archipelago are bird sanctuaries, including Bird Island, which is inhabited by millions of fairy terns.
Seychelles is also home to two U.N.E.S.C.O World Heritage Sites: Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll and Praslin's Vallée de Mai, once believed to be the original site of the Garden of Eden.
The Ministry of Environment & Natural Resources has been mandated with the important task of protecting all species in all their states, whether they are threatened, vulnerable or on the brink of extinction. Current projects are underway to conserve and protect some of the rarest species found on the island. These include the Seychelles Black Parrot, Scops Owl, Sheath-Tailed Bat and the Hawksbill turtle.
The island of Mauritius lies about 800km East of Madagascar. It is only 61km long and 46km wide. The island was formed approximately 10 million years ago by an under-water volcanic eruption.
Mauritius has about 350km of coast. Most of which are protected by coral reefs.
Mauritius is surrounded by a number of smaller islands, many of which are used as nature reserves for endangered species.
The climate on the island is tropical, with dry winter months – May to November and hot, humid summers from November to May.
Mauritius’ most famous inhabitant was arguably the Dodo, which became extinct less than 80 years after it was first spotted on the island around 1600.
A flightless bird, it became easy prey for the sailors who settled the island.
As of 2001 about 1.8% of the nation’s land mass had been set aside as protected area, and currently Mauritius is ranked third in the World on the list of countries with the most endangered species.
Destination:Indian Ocean Islands
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