Rewilding the Seychelles: Changing Nature through the Reintroduction of Reptilian Megafauna
Charlene Cresswell, Jeremy Field, Zachary Luck
Keywords. Rewilding, Reintroduction, Tortoise, Seychelles
Summary. The islands of the Seychelles are rewilding. During the colonial period, many tortoise populations were decimated, as they were used by sailors as a food source. They were not used sustainably, as tortoises disappeared from some of the islands and some species were thought to have been driven extinct. As tortoises act as ‘engineers’ of the ecosystems they inhabit, the environments of the Seychelles islands changed for the worse with their absence. In an effort to restore the natural processes previously found in these ecosystems back to their previous state, Aldabra Giant Tortoises, (from the Aldabra Atoll, north of Madagascar), have been introduced to these islands. These projects have encountered social and ecological challenges, but overall are having a positive impact and are reshaping the ecosystems of the Seychelles. In addition to the effects of climate change and sea level rise, tortoise reintroduction efforts are changing what is seen as natural, and are giving credibility to the idea of rewilding in other ecosystems worldwide.
Acknowledgements. We would like to thank Eric Higgs for inspiring this project.