The Seychelles Islands have some fascinating land animals, ranging from mammals, reptiles to insects. In the amazing biodiversity that is Seychelles, the big and the small live together in perfect harmony, each adapting to the others habitat, however many are on the critically endangered list and conservation organisations are doing the utmost to ensure the survival of the species.
Below are some species of interest:
- Aldabra Giant Land Tortoise: Surely holding the gargantuan title amongst reptiles in Seychelles, and one of the largest tortoises in the world, these friendly giants share their homes with their human counter parts. The main population of the giant tortoise resides on the Aldabra Atoll. The atoll is now 1 of 2 UNESCO world heritage sites in Seychelles, and it is home to some 100,000 giant tortoises, the worlds largest population of the animal. As the largest animal in its environment, the Aldabra tortoise performs a role similar to that of the elephant. Their vigorous search for food fells trees and creates pathways used by other animals. But they are not only limited to the Aldabra Atoll, these land tortoises are excellent swimmers as they are naturally buoyant. It therefore stands to reason that they also swam to neighboring islands in search of food. Visitors can also view Giant Tortoises in the Botanical Gardens, or on Moyenne Island, where they live free roaming the island. The oldest tortoise in Seychelles is named ’Esmeralda‘, she is thought to be some 150 years old, and she calls Bird Island Home.
- The Seychelles Giant Tortoise: The Seychelles Giant Tortoise had been thought to be extinct since the mid-19th century due to overexploitation on the granitic Seychelles islands. The only species of Indian Ocean giant tortoises to avoid this fate was the Aldabra Giant Tortoise due to its isolated location. In 1999, some Seychelles island Tortoises (12 known individuals) were discovered to still be alive in captivity. Now safe in the breeding centre on Silhouette, efforts are going towards the propagation and continued survival of the species.
- Arnold‘s Giant Tortoise: Also known as the ’Seychelles saddle-backed tortoise, the species was also thought to be extinct in the wild, like its counter part the ’Seychelles Giant Tortoise‘. Contrary to other giant tortoises, which have high domed shaped carapaces, the carapace of the saddle-back is long and somewhat flat. Because of this they regularly have to bask in the sun as they lose heat quickly through the skin of their exposed neck. The gecko is also found on the island of Silhouette.
- Gardiners Seychelles Frog: This brown and gold frog is only about the size of a small fingernail and its high-pitched squeak is often audible in higher areas. Mostly making its home in dense moist forests, those taking a hike up Morne Seychellois, and disposing of keen eyesight, may be fortunate to come across this minute creature.
- Seychelles Fruit Bat: Also known as ’flying fox‘, these are a species of megabats found on the granitic islands of Seychelles. They play a significant role in the ecosystem as they disperse the seeds of many tree species. They commonly roost in caves during the day and emerge at dusk to feed.
- Seychelles Sheath-tailed Bat: Endemic to the Seychelles, this species is now known only from the island of Silhouette and the west coast of Mahe.
- Seychelles wolf snake: Classified as endangered, the wolf snake grows up to 1.2m. It is a slender and graceful reptile. It is found only in the Seychelles, where it occurs on the islands of Mahe, Silhouette, Praslin, Aride, La Digue and Fregate. It is commonly found in forests, particularly amongst native vegetation from the coast to the islands highest points.
- Giant Bronze Gecko: Classified as vulnerable, the giant bronze gecko is endemic to the Seychelles. Rarely seen, its sandy-bronze coloration camouflages it against the stems and branches of its preferred tree, the coco-de-mer palm.
- Fregate Island Giant Tenebrionid beetle: Despite being the largest tenebrionid beetle in the world, it is also one of the most critically endangered, as it is only found on the small island of Fregate in the Seychelles. The flightless beetle has long legs and arms and produces a defensive chemical, secreted through its rear, which has a musky smell and stains the skin purple.