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Category Archives: Seychelles

Seychelles: paradise in the Outer Islands – BirdGuides

Posted: May 11, 2020 at 11:22 am

With 13 endemics and a number of iconic tropical species, Seychelles has long been a popular destination for keen birders as well as holidaymakers.

The archipelago itself stretches across more than 1,000 km of the Indian Ocean, with the furthest outpost the Aldabra Group of atolls closer to Madagascar and mainland Africa than they are to Mah, the largest island of the Seychelles and the jumping-off point for almost all its resorts.

The Outer Islands are seldom visited by birders. One such atoll or rather, collection of atolls is the Cosmoledo Group. Cosmoledo was inhabited as a fishing and turtling station until 1992 when it was abandoned, leaving behind the inevitable rats and cats. In recent years, successful efforts to remove the introduced fauna have returned these otherwise-unspoilt atolls to their natural state and the birdlife is thriving as a result. Until recently the only visitors here were the occasional cruise ship or group of researchers, but a newBlue Safari group eco-lodge has provided an opportunity to experience this pristine ecosystem. From Mah it is the small matter of a two-leg, two-and-a-half-hour flight and a 90-minute boat journey to reach Cosmoledo.There's no land transport here or any real tracks to get around the island, which is just 3 km in length, adding to the feeling of being somewhere truly wild and remote.

Cosmoledo is both remote and bustling with spectacular tropical wildlife. What's more, the light conditions "were like nothing I've seen before", according to Kit.

Cosmoledo is home to just a handful of landbirds; the most conspicuous of which are Madagascan Cisticola, Malagasy Turtle Dove and Souimanga Sunbird, the last of which is also found in Madagascar. The sunbirds on Cosmoledo Atoll and nearby Astove Island are quite distinct in appearance from those on mainland Madagascar, and are sometimes considered to be a separate species (Abbott's Sunbird). These species are remarkably numerous across the Cosmoledo Group, but it is unusual to encounter any other landbirds. A Broad-billed Roller I stumbled across one afternoon was a real surprise!

The local abbotti subspecies ofSouimanga Sunbirdis a good candidate for being elevated to full species status (Kit Day).

Seabirds are a different matter, with upwards of 1 million pairs of Sooty Terns carpeting the sparsely vegetated surface of Grand le during the south-east monsoon season from May to September. On my visit in late November only a few Sooties were seen on the boat crossing, along with both Brown and Lesser Noddies and streams of boobies commuting between feeding areas and their breeding colonies on Cosmoledo. Red-footed is the most numerous, with an estimated 15,000 pairs favouring le du Sud-Ouest.

There is accommodation here for a maximum of 16 guests in eight remarkably well-equipped and comfortable converted shipping containers, each placed a matter of metres from the beach on Grand le. The bushes around the lodge buildings hold the ubiquitous Madagascar Cisticolas and Souimanga Sunbirds, with both species also paying regular visits to the interior of the large tent which serves as a reception, lounge and restaurant area, where superb meals are served.A few pairs of the iconic White Tern, referred to locally by the evocative name of Fairy Tern, could also be found canoodling just outside the rooms. This species was previously considered to be an annual visitor to Cosmoledo, but now appears to be breeding in small numbers.

White Ternis one of tropics' truly iconic birds (Kit Day).

An exploration of the island revealed scattered colonies of handsome Masked Boobies, many with large chicks. The ominous shapes of Great Frigatebirds constantly swirl overhead, waiting for a booby to return from a feeding trip. Any such birds are immediately targeted by teams of frigatebirds, chasing them down, harrying and snapping at them until they're forced to cough up some fish in exchange for a bit of peace and quiet.

Masked Boobieswere constantly given a hard time by the local Great Frigatebirds, creating an entertaining all-day spectacle(Kit Day).

Red-tailed Tropicbirds drifted past serenely, keeping well clear of the booby vs frigatebird melee. The majority of the local tropicbirds breed on le du Sud-Ouest, but a squawk from beneath a bush on Grand le alerted me to a bird on a nest there, too.

The beaches host numerous visiting waders and terns, the undisputed highlight of which is a large flock of the bizarre Crab-plover. I spent a whole evening secluded in the vegetation at the top of the beach as a group of roosting Crab-plovers was gradually brought closer by the rising tide, providing stunning views.

One of the highlights of the trip was the chance for excellent views of the outstandingCrab-plover(Kit Day).

The lodge is open to tourists from November to April to avoid disturbance to the nesting Sooty Terns; during the rest of the year accommodation is offered to the Islands Conservation Society (ICS) to monitor and carry out research on bird and marine life.

The partnership between Blue Safari, ICS and the Island Development Company (IDC) is strongly in evidence on the island of Alphonse, some 600 km to the north-east of Cosmoledo. This is the headquarters of Blue Safari operations, with accommodation for around 100 guests, but it's still perfectly possible to find a bird-filled patch of beach all to yourself on a stroll around the island's 6-km coastline. The IDC and ICS have resident staff on Alphonse to conduct research and conservation programmes, lead diving and snorkelling activities and guide nature walks. In the evenings there are frequent presentations about aspects of local wildlife and conservation work. These organisations and other partners have formed the Alphonse Foundation, working together to preserve the environment alongside ecotourism.

A lot of thought has gone into ensuring the impact on wildlife is minimised as far as possible, a good example being the use of turtle-friendly light bulbs around the cabins in conjunction with the intentional placement of thick vegetation to block out the light and avoid attracting young turtles away from the sea. Fishing is one of the most popular pursuits among guests to both Cosmoledo and Alphonse, but all fish that are caught are returned. An allotment on the island contributes fresh fruit and vegetables to the excellent meals served up to guests.

Where there are Crab-plovers, there are crabs ... the spectacular and photogenic Horned Ghost Crabs proved a constant source of amusement on the beaches of Cosmoledo (Kit Day).

The Alphonse group includes the nearby islands of Bijoutier and St Franois. The latter is the destination for frequent excursions from Alphonse and hosts breeding Black-naped and White Terns, a large flock of Crab-plover and vast numbers of roosting Red-footed Boobies, with plenty of frigatebirds loafing around as a result. All these species can also be seen around Alphonse itself, as can Saunders's and Greater Crested Terns.

Black-naped Ternis a beautiful and common bird throughout the Seychelles(Kit Day).

The sky above Alphonse is full of frigatebirds and both Brown and Lesser Noddies, while a touch of extra class is supplied by a few pairs of White-tailed Tropicbirds. Alphonse is also home to an introduced population of Aldabra Giant Tortoises, which can often be seen crawling around on the grass by the tracks that criss-cross the island. The young tortoises require protection from the remarkably large resident population of Grey Herons, as well as a small number of feral cats, so they are housed in secure accommodation until they are too large to be threatened by predators.

Alphonse hosts a population of introduced Aldabra Giant Tortoises, which make for a quirky sight when seen alongside familiar wintering waders, such as Ruddy Turnstone (Kit Day).

There are signs that the battle against the cats and non-native rats is being won, as a small colony of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters has recently been discovered on Alphonse. A nocturnal visit to experience the eerie calls of these birds was one of the highlights of my Seychelles trip. The ultimate goal of the Alphonse Foundation is to rid the island of these non-native pests, but the dense forest carpeting much of the island makes this a difficult and costly exercise.

Being an island, there's always the chance of something unusual turning up. Sightings on my visit included the first Grey-tailed Tattler and White-winged Tern for Alphonse, with a supporting cast of Yellow Wagtail (ninth record), Common Swift (seventh) and a brief glimpse of a cuckoo species (either the fifth Common or the third Lesser recorded on the island).

Other familiar species in this unfamiliar setting include Ruddy Turnstone, Whimbrel and Curlew Sandpiper, all feeding happily in the gardens and on the forest tracks. A turnstone eating away busily alongside a hulking Giant Tortoise is one of the more bizarre sights that can be frequently encountered on Alphonse!

Many visitors to the tropics come for the wildlife underneath the waves and the Outer Islands of the Seychelles excel in this department. Green and Hawksbill Turtles are easily seen paddling in the shallows off the numerous pristine white sandy beaches of Cosmoledo in particular, while on my visit to St Franois we also saw Lemon Shark and the confusingly named Spotted Eagle Ray. The coral reef ecosystems here appear to be in remarkably good health, and when combined with the abundant birdlife overhead and Giant Tortoises on the land, the title of the 'Galpagos of the Indian Ocean' seems entirely fitting!

There is a real sereneness to Alphonse, and intensive conservation work isrestoring the island's wildlife to its full glory (Kit Day).

Kit visited Cosmoledo and Alphonse in the Seychelles courtesy of Blue Safari:www.bluesafari.com/en

For more information regarding the Seychelles, please visitwww.seychelles.travelor emailseychelles@uksto.co.uk.

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Conservation in crisis: ecotourism collapse threatens communities and wildlife – The Guardian

Posted: at 11:22 am

From the vast plains of the Masai Mara in Kenya to the delicate corals of the Aldabra atoll in the Seychelles, conservation work to protect some of the worlds most important ecosystems is facing crisis following a collapse in ecotourism during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Organisations that depend on visitors to fund projects for critically endangered species and rare habitats could be forced to close, according to wildlife NGOs, after border closures and worldwide travel restrictions abruptly halted millions of pounds of income from tourism.

Throughout the pandemic, scientists have repeatedly urged humanity to reset its relationship with nature or suffer worse outbreaks. But the economic consequences of the Covid-19 lockdown have raised fears of a surge in poaching, illegal fishing and deforestation in life-sustaining ecosystems, with tens of thousands of jobs in the ecotourism sector at risk around the world.

Its right that the global focus now is on protecting human lives in this devastating pandemic. However, in the places we work, we are already witnessing its economic impact, particularly in areas where communities rely heavily on ecotourism for their livelihoods, said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF UK.

In Cambodia, three critically endangered giant ibis were killed for meat in early April following the collapse of the local tourism industry, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. In central Africa, measures to shield mountain gorillas from the virus have resulted in a slump in vital visitor revenue. Twelve rangers who guarded Virunga national park, where the gorillas live, were killed in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo last month.

It could be years before these places can fully recover, increasing the risk that people come to rely on other activities to make a living, putting unsustainable pressure on natural resources, Bartlett said. Additionally it is currently much harder to monitor land grabbing and illegal poaching.

While the poaching of rhinos, big cats and critically endangered species has continued during lockdown, a recent Wildlife Justice Commission report found the illegal wildlife trade had been severely disrupted by movement and travel restrictions.

But conservationists fear an explosion of illegal hunting if organisations are forced to lay off wildlife rangers and suspend surveillance programmes. Black rhinos in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, have been evacuated after at least six were killed by poachers in March.

Dickson Kaelo, chief executive officer at Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association, said all bookings for this years key activities such as the wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara had been cancelled, prompting difficult choices about staff in Kenyas conservancies.

While elephant poaching may not escalate owing to the current suppression of international travel and negative sentiments against animal products in south-east Asia, demand for bushmeat will go up if there is nobody to monitor activities within the conservancies, he said.

Poaching for bushmeat already existed on a small scale even before the coronavirus outbreak. With more Kenyans out of work, bushmeat will be more appealing than meat sold by the licensed butcher. If the rangers have no salaries, how will they effectively monitor human activities in and out of the conservancies?

Wildlife conservation in Kenya had already suffered a series of setbacks following a devastating locust invasion and a viral outbreak among livestock in the the Greater Mara conservation area. Kaelo said coronavirus will compound the effects on community-led wildlife conservation.

Members of these communities may lose faith in wildlife conservation if there is no money forthcoming. In addition, people who live around these wildlife havens and looked forward to selling artefacts to tourists may resort to other income-generating activities such as farming, fuelling the never-ending human-wildlife conflicts as animals invade and destroy their new farms, he said.

In Colombia, the big cat conservation organisation Panthera has recorded a spike in big cat poaching, with two jaguars, an ocelot and a puma killed in recent weeks. The organisation has experienced delays in funding during the pandemic.

While rangers are forced to stay at home, Dr Esteban Payn, director of the jaguar programme in the region, said he was concerned about illegal land grabbing and intentional wildfires.

My worst fear post-pandemic is that once we go out, were going to find hectares and hectares of fenced-out new farmland where you dont know who they are or what is happening. Theres rampant deforestation in Colombia right now in the Amazon.

That worries me more than increased poaching. Why? Because of the scale, size and speed of deforestation and fires. That just destroys the habitat. And with the habitat, there go the jaguars. You might not see a bloody animal on the ground with a bullet in it but its worse because theyre either homeless and burned, burned alive or they dont have any prey.

Global Fishing Watch has recorded a substantial drop in fishing around the world, with fishing hours down nearly 10% from 11 March to the end of April compared with the past two years. But the drop in ecotourism has affected conservation of the worlds most precious marine ecosystems.

Dr Fanny Douvere, Unescos marine programme coordinator for 50 world heritage sites, including the Great Barrier Reef, the Galpagos Islands and the West Norwegian Fjords, warned of the consequences of the downturn.

We need to be particularly worried about those sites that are heavily dependent on tourism revenues to finance some of their operations. In the Seychelles, for example, Aldabra atoll is not sure how its going to continue with its monitoring because its entirely financed by revenues from tourism, she said.

As soon as tourism revenues fall apart, a lot of sites cannot continue their conservation, or at least part of it.

Find more age of extinction coverage here, and follow biodiversity reporters Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield on Twitter for all the latest news and features

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Cabinet Business – Wednesday 06th May 2020 – News – Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles

Posted: at 11:22 am

06 May 2020 | Cabinet Business

President Danny Faure chaired a scheduled meeting of the Cabinet today, Wednesday 6thMay at which a number of legal and policy memoranda were considered.

Cabinet was updated on the development and implementation of the Sectoral Guidelines for Workplaces to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19.

Cabinet was briefed on the plan for resumption of SPTC bus services in line with the new normal. Cabinet was also briefed on the preparation for the re-opening of schools.

Cabinet was informed of STCs strategy to mitigate the impact of the rising foreign exchange costs on its operations.

Cabinet approved amendments to the part rental assistance policy in order to address the impact of COVID - 19 on citizens. Cabinet also approved an increase in the one-off assistance paid under social welfare assistance.

Cabinet approved amendments to the Customs Management (Tariff and Classification of Goods) Regulations, 2018 for the creation of a new National Split to cater for the disposable face masks used for medical purposes.

Cabinet approved for the publication of the expiration of the Specified Period under the Employment (Special Leave) (Corona virus Temporary Measures) Regulations, 2020.

Cabinet was also apprised of the status of non-Seychellois employment in Seychelles.

Cabinet approved the Seychelles Spatial Data Sharing Policy.

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Follow-up meeting on additional restrictions of movement in Seychelles – Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles

Posted: April 18, 2020 at 7:05 pm

16 April 2020 | State House

President Danny Faure chaired the second Law Enforcement Committee meeting this week, together with key command chain stakeholders at State House this afternoon.

The meeting took place ahead of additional measures due to come into force tomorrow, designed tobreak the chain of transmission of COVID-19 in Seychelles. These were announced by the President in his last address on Tuesday 14 April. As of Friday 17 April, further restrictions on the movement of people from 7 pm in the evening until 6 am in the morning will commence for a period of two weeks until 29 April. During this time, only certain key workers in critical services will have special permission to move around. This list of critical services will be published by the Public Health Commissioner. Additionally, all shops will close from 6 pm in the evening until 6.30 am the next morning.

Members provided updates of the respective areas under their purview and raised key deficiencies requiring immediate intervention. The regular meetings provide the President with an overview of the key operations in play during this critical month, all in line with breaking the chain of COVID-19 transmission.

Present for the meeting at State House this morning was the Chief of Defence Forces,Colonel Clifford Roseline, Commissioner of Police, Mr Kishnan Labonte, Attorney General, Mr Frank Ally,Secretary of State for Health, Ambassador Marie-Pierre Lloyd,Chief of Staff of SPDF, Colonel Michael Rosette, the Principal Secretary for Health, Dr Bernard Valentin, the Principal Secretary for Risk and Disaster Management, Mr Paul Labaleine,CEO of the Healthcare Agency, Dr Danny Louange, the Public Health Commissioner, Dr Jude Gedeon,Senior Policy Adviser Department of Health, Dr Conrad Shamlaye, Special Advisor for Health, Dr Loren Reginal,Assistant Commissioners of Police, Mr Ted Barbe and Mr Romano Songor, and Director General of the Seychelles Intelligence Service, Mr Benediste Hoareau.

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3 African leaders: The smart step to fight the virus – Action News Now

Posted: at 7:05 pm

With Covid-19 bringing economic activity to a halt across much of the world, there is wide recognition that some of the most vulnerable nations will have a hard time covering their debt payments. When finance ministers of the G20 nations agreed this week to freeze debt repayment for the world's poorest countries, it was a step in the right direction.

But in Africa, the entire continent deserves solidarity and smart debt relief -- and it needs it now.

While we eagerly welcome debt relief for Africa's lower-income nations, the region's middle-income countries -- like Kenya, Seychelles and Tunisia -- also need relief at this unprecedented time. Given the interconnectedness of Africa's economies, omitting them from this program will leave the region less stable in the face of this crisis. Given the tight web of trade, travel, remittances and regional health security which naturally binds the continental club to each other, Africa is bound together as a whole -- one that must not be left out of the global stimulus program.

The continent has made progress worth investing in. A rising, educated middle class is driven in part by graduates from the best universities on the continent, which are gaining recognition around the world. In 2019, Kenya-based Strathmore University defeated Harvard University in a competition based on World Trade Organization international trade law. In 2017, Google's worldwide coding competition saw its first African winner, from Cameroon. Egypt is building a museum to rival the Louvre. Seychelles sits on the cutting edge of climate financing, having launched in 2018 the world's first sovereign "blue bonds," investment vehicles that go toward projects deemed ocean-friendly. Tunisia not only saw the beginning of the Arab Spring and its young people work hard toward democracy, it is now fostering start-ups with tax breaks and time off for entrepreneurs to launch their endeavors.

African countries have made advancements, and they've done it by embracing the opportunities of an interconnected regional and global economy.

But Africa remains vulnerable. It is moving fast, but it has limited capacity to absorb shocks. The increased interconnectedness of the continent also implies that any support to the continent will be more effective if extended to all. As a continent, Africa will come out of this crisis faster if it works together.

Covid-19 is taking a toll -- and not just in countries facing the most significant financial challenges. Tourism is frozen, and foreign direct investment has collapsed. In countries like Tunisia, a prolonged economic collapse could threaten to undo some hard-won democratic gains. The region and the world at-large cannot afford another period of prolonged unrest due to rising inflation and no jobs.

Seychelles, another emerging-market African economy, is battling the pressures of climate change while struggling to protect its pristine beaches for high-end tourism. Amid Covid-19, most economic activity is frozen. Tourism, nearly a quarter of its GDP, is at a standstill. The loss of travel and tourism could be devastating for the continent: Worldwide, the UN's World Tourism Organization expects tourism to drop 20% to 30% in 2020, for a global loss of $300 billion to $450 billion. Africa's tourism industry is growing second-fasted among world regions, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, accounting for 8.5% of GDP in 2018.

These middle-income countries are also home to migrant workers from within the continent. ("In 2017," a UN report noted, "there were about 41 million international migrants from, to, or within Africa.") Countries like Kenya and South Africa host significant numbers of workers from elsewhere on the continent, and remittances -- money sent back home by workers -- flowing from these middle-income countries to lower-income African neighbors can be important to the economies of the latter and are yet another way in which economies across the continent are linked. Africa does not depend heavily on trade within the continent, but that is poised to change. Trade among African countries accounted for 17% of total African exports in 2017 -- a figure lower than the 68% seen in Europe or 60% in Asia -- but Africa has been leading the international charge for lowering trade barriers and developing economic connections, working toward an African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement that would make Africa the largest free-trade area in the world.

A contraction in Africa's middle-income countries also has an impact on the continent's collective trade balance with the rest of the world, as 88.5% of all African exports to Europe originate from countries not among the World Bank's International Development Association borrowers, according to UN trade data. These exports benefit the entire continent.

In a global recession such as this one, a call to support the low-income borrower countries is appropriate. But given the linkages between emerging economies across the continent, if the rest of Africa was left out of the assistance program, it won't be effective. That's why everyone, middle-income countries included, needs help -- and why the interdependence of Africa's economies must be kept at the top of mind, as international leaders approach key questions over the next months, and beyond, over how to save the global economy and confront the issue of international debt repayment.

It is in this respect that we join the African finance ministers' call for a debt standstill for all of Africa. Fiscal space created in Tunisia will create jobs and protect the democratic movement finally underway. Liquidity extended to Kenya, Morocco or Nigeria will ensure that small and medium-sized businesses in Benin, Mauritania and Togo can build back better.

Covid-19 does not distinguish between national income categories, and therefore assistance to combat this global threat must be commensurate with the magnitude of the problem. Countries everywhere will be pressed to innovate fiscal solutions, stave off the worst of the crisis, and bring government help to bear on their economies, in whatever fashion they can. Giving middle-income countries the space to do so will help everyone, in the end.

Most importantly, humanitarian help is needed, and as world leaders debate answers to Covid-19, we must keep in mind that as long as the virus lives in one of us, it lives in all of us.

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The Seas as the Ultimate Coronavirus Isolation? Not. So. Fast. – The New York Times

Posted: at 7:05 pm

Mr. Clarke, who is 37 and from Australia, said the Chicago family concentrated on letting their grandchildren enjoy the water but the adults were glued to news reports of the coronavirus. The tension rose, he said, as the week went on.

We tried to make sure they had as much fun as possible, but they were obviously worried about what was going on back home, just like everyone in the crew, he said. We are not concerned about our own safety because we have been so good with self-isolating but we are all a little worried about friends and family.

Dirk Uffenkamp, a 53-year-old engineer from Bielefeld, Germany, was also focused on what was happening back home when he and six friends chartered a 48-foot Leopard catamaran in the Seychelles until early March.

Mr. Uffenkamp said his friends seriously considered extending the charter to stay safely isolated.

But we all have families with partners and children, and the idea was thrown overboard pretty quickly, he said. We knew we wanted to fly home.

That catamaran is still available for charter through the online agency Sailogy.com, but the firms founder, Manlio Accardo, said the problem is there are no flights to the Seychelles.

The yacht used by Mr. Uffenkamps group costs about $16,000 a week, but Mr. Accardo said weekly charters range from $1,500 to $27,000, with an average of about $5,500. In the crewed and luxury market Sailogy.coms weekly prices stretch from $33,000 to $220,000, with an average of about $80,000.

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This tiny island nation is setting the global standard for ocean conservation – AOL

Posted: April 9, 2020 at 6:30 pm

Seychelles may be tiny, but the work its residents have done to protect its bustling marine life and gorgeous waters has an enormous impact.

The archipelago of 114 islands, located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa, is home to numerous beaches, coral reefs and rare animals.

Thanks to a new initiative, more than 30 percent of the countrys waters are now protected. The government has placed restrictions on environmentally damaging activities, such as certain types of fishing and human interference.

The protected area around Seychelles stretches about 171,000 square miles a portion of the globe nearly 1,000 times larger than the countrys own landmass.

Credit: Getty Images

Danny Faure, the president of Seychelles, said in a speech that meeting this goal means a lot for the countrys current residents, and for all future generations as well.

According to the Associated Press, he made a global plea for stronger protection of the beating blue heart of our planet.

We have a relationship with nature, and we depend on the ocean, he continued. And achieving this is a very strong message.

Only seven percent of the worlds oceans are currently protected. A few countries have pledged to increase those areas by 10 percent, but experts say its not enough.

Credit: Getty Images

Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, says Seychelles is setting the standard for much larger countries.

Lots of people are saying, So, whats our excuse? Were bigger, we are wealthier. Is it that we lack commitment? And if we lack commitment, how can we change that?' she told the Associated Press. But for some people, theyre saying; We dont lack commitment, we just dont know how to do it.'

Leo Barret and his colleagues from the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles have been working to establish coral nurseries to help restore reefs near the country just one of the many steps Seychelles has taken to restore marine life.

What do you want your grandchildren to see? Do you want them to see a sea full of plastic pollution, full of bottles? he told the Associated Press.

Or [do] you want to be able to show the future generation coral reef, the fish biodiversity, this is something specific from the ocean, specific on the earth? I think we need to preserve that.

If you enjoyed this story, you may also like reading about how canners are making New York more eco-friendly.

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After Trump, Bolsonaro thanks Modi for supply of anti-malarial drug – Livemint

Posted: at 6:30 pm

NEW DELHI :India woke up on Thursday to public expressions of thanks from the presidents of the US and Brazil for quick shipments of an anti-malaria drug, which is being tested as a possible treatment for covid-19, as infections from the novel coronavirus inched towards the 1.5-million mark worldwide and the death toll neared 90,000.

The messages from presidents Donald Trump of the US and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil came as New Delhi prepared to ship consignments of the drug to some other countries badly hit by the pandemic like Britain, Spain, the UK and Germany.

New Delhi is also planning to dispatch medicines to some of its immediate neighbours, and others, such as Mauritius, Seychelles and Bahrain, in Indias extended neighbourhood, a person familiar with the developments said.

Indias supplies of medicines, especially #HCQ (hydroxychloroquine) and #paracetamol to several countries, including USA, Israel, Gulf, neighbours, etc confirm our role as first provider and help in global fight against #COVID19," Sanjay Bhattacharyya, secretary in Indias foreign ministry said in a Twitter post on Thursday.

Analysts said Indias so-called medical diplomacy" by first lifting an exports ban on hydroxychloroquine, or HCQ, in response to requests from several nations will burnish its credentials as a responsible citizen of the world" at a time when China is facing flak over its alleged lack of transparency over the covid-19 outbreak. The disease first surfaced in China in December. The UN Security Council is to meet later Thursday for a special briefing on the pandemic.

Extraordinary times require even closer cooperation between friends. Thank you India and the Indian people for the decision on HCQ. Will not be forgotten! Thank you Prime Minister @NarendraModi for your strong leadership in helping not just India, but humanity, in this fight!" Trump said in a Twitter post late Wednesday.

Bolsonaro, on his part, thanked India for the timely assistance" in an address to the nation made late Wednesday.

As a result of my direct conversation with the Prime Minister of India, we will receive, until Saturday, raw material to continue producing hydroxychloroquine, so that we can treat covid-19 patients, as well as malaria, lupus and arthritis," Bolsonaro said.

I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian people for this very timely assistance to the Brazilian people," he added.

Both leaders had telephonic talks with Modi on Saturday.

Former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh said Indias quick response to Trumps request of releasing the HCQ would score points in its favour given that US drug companies have been critical of India producing low-cost generic drugs in the past and New Delhi capping costs of critical medicines and equipment manufactured by the multinational firms in the past.

Mansingh noted that India had previously fallen foul of the large pharmaceutical companies for alleged intellectual property rights (IPR) violations as they produced generic drugs to treat HIV-AIDS.

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Seychelles Map / Geography of Seychelles / Map of …

Posted: March 24, 2020 at 6:05 am

The Republic of Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands located in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar.

Pre-European colonization the islands were known by Arab navigators on trading voyages, but were never inhabited.

Eventually Seychelles was settled by France in the 18th century, but it wasn't long before the British fought for control. A lengthy struggle between France and Great Britain for the islands ended in 1814, when they were ceded to the latter.

Although the new governor to the islands was British, he governed according to French rules, and allowed previous French customs to remain intact. Slavery was completely abolished in 1835, and the island nation subsequently began to decline as exportation decreased.

The anti-slavery stance was taken very seriously by the British government, and conditions started improving when it was realized that coconuts could be grown with less labour.

In the late 19th century, Seychelles became a place to exile troublesome political prisoners, most notably from Zanzibar, Egypt, Cyprus and Palestine.

Independence for the islands came in 1976, after the Seychelles People's United Party was formed and led by France-Albert Rene, campaigning for socialism and freedom from Britain.

Socialism was brought to a close with a new constitution and free elections in 1993. President France-Albert Rene, who had served since 1977, was re-elected in 2001, but stepped down in 2004.

Vice President James Michel took over the presidency and in July 2006 was elected to a new five-year term.

Upon independence in 1976, economic growth has steadily increased, led by the tourism sector and tuna fishing. In the past few years, the government has also created incentives for foreign investments. Per capita, Seychelles is the most indebted country in the world and currently had a population of 90,024.

This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.

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Why an Indian ocean deep sea mission will help the Maldives and Seychelles manage their oceans – The Conversation Africa

Posted: at 6:04 am

Oceans cover over 70% of our blue planet and are vital to its health. For instance carbon moves in and out of the ocean and can be stored there for thousands of years. Oceans are also a source of food and livelihood to millions of people, and to the economies of coastal countries. They are also the largest habitable space on the planet and house many different organisms.

But theres a great deal that scientists still dont know about the worlds oceans.

The deep sea is traditionally defined as below 200m. Usually light from the sun cant reach these depths and they are home to organisms that have special adaptations to live here. These waters are often in remote areas, and are beyond the reach of all but specialist technologies, therefore much of the deep sea remains under-explored.

Exploration is always revealing species that are new to science. Many of these could be directly important to humans, for example some contain specific compounds that may aid medicinal advances.

The Seychelles and the Maldives are now jointly launching a new deep-sea scientific mission in the Indian Ocean that is focused on seamounts large land-forms that rise from the ocean floor but dont reach the surface. Because of a limit in equipment and experts, there have not been any systematic biological surveys of this region at these depths before. Historically, this type of research has been near countries with better access to resources, such as those on the shores of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

The mission of the First Descent: Midnight Zone is to understand what lives in the water, from the surface to the seabed. We also want to know how this changes from waters in the Seychelles to the Maldives.

This information will eventually be available on open access databases, building on the global knowledge of the deeper ocean for other scientists and policy makers.We hope that this information enables countries to understand how to manage their oceans better.

Our expedition is made up of scientists from many different disciplines who are coming together to document biological, physical and chemical parameters. This will provide us with valuable baseline data which can also be used to predict life in other sites that we couldnt explore.

The gear we will use ranges from traditional oceanographic technologies to newly developed equipment.

For example we will use a multibeam echo-sounder a type of sonar to visualise the shape and depth of the seamounts. Sensors and water samplers will examine water columns imagine columns of water from the surface of the ocean to the bottom. Neuston nets like a net between two floats are used to sample zooplankton and microplastics in the neuston layer, or top few centimetres of the ocean.

The most advanced piece of technology we will use is the full depth submersible, it looks like an underwater pod that can go to extreme depths. This enables us to explore the steep slopes of the seamounts. This will allow us to film and record transects of the seabed and also take samples of specific organisms of interest with the manipulator arm. We expect to find cold water coral reefs and gardens of soft corals and sponges all home to diverse life.

This expedition will take five weeks, operating 24 hours a day.

We are exploring six seamounts that were prioritised by stakeholders such as government ministries from the Seychelles and Maldives.

Seamounts are interesting to explore because they are a hotspot for marine life. This is because they rise up from the seafloor and push deep, cold nutrient rich waters up around and over them to the surface. Also, because theyre hard and sediment cant settle on the slopes and vertical surfaces, organisms can attach to them. In the deep sea the seabed is mostly rock, covered by a thick layer of sediment.

In addition to this information, by visiting locations east and west of the Central Indian Ridge, we hope to investigate whether the ridge is a potential barrier to organisms moving. This is important to help the understanding of genetic connectivity across the region. Genetic connectivity can help us understand where isolated, and therefore more vulnerable, populations of organisms are.

Seychelles is to announce its massive project to protect 30% of their waters. Data from the expedition will help inform this process. This protection includes both no-take zones and the banning of some activities.

In the Maldives a process of marine spatial planning ocean zoning to remove or include specific activities has just started. Documenting life in the deep waters enables us to ground assumptions on life made at these depths, and could show areas that need future protection.

Finally some of the seamounts that we will visit are in the high seas. This area is beyond national jurisdiction and is currently receiving international attention because of a UN treaty thats being negotiated. Shining a spotlight on seamount life could help galvanise action by the parties and the new knowledge that comes from the data collected could help future management of the region.

Sheena Talma, a key scientist working on the mission, also contributed to this article.

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Why an Indian ocean deep sea mission will help the Maldives and Seychelles manage their oceans - The Conversation Africa

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