(Seychelles News Agency) – Scientists and conservationists from Seychelles, Madagascar and Mauritius, learned more about the various research on the Aldabra Giant tortoise in a symposium held in the capital Victoria on Thursday.
The symposium was held under the theme “Giant Tortoises: The Past, The Present, The Future.” It was the first event in a series of activities a group of conservationists and philanthropists of the Indian Ocean Tortoise Alliance (IOTA) is holding over three days to encourage more people to appreciate giant tortoises.
The alliance, which was initiated at the recent Paris Peace Conference, is an inclusive, Seychelles-anchored non-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation of the iconic Aldabra tortoise, found on the Aldabra Atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is managed by the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF).
IOTA’s project director, Rich Baxter, told reporters that the symposium was organised to “really get people excited about giant tortoises, both here in Seychelles and in the Indian Ocean.”
He said that the Aldabra giant tortoises are on the national emblem of Seychelles and are being used for tourism purposes but IOTA “really wants people to understand the importance of their importance on the islands as well as how best to look after them.”
In regards to participants from Mauritius, Rodrigues, and Madagascar, Baxter explained that “we share a lot of research with them and they also pioneer a lot of the work we would like to do in Seychelles – so it’s a collaboration whose point is to make it more concrete so we can benefit from learning from each other,”
IOTA’s three-day programme on Friday is an Action day geared towards those who work directly with tortoises such as rangers and tortoises’ carers. Participants will discuss the process of rewilding, tortoise research protocols, and the development of an action plan for the future protection of giant tortoises in Seychelles.
Another activity will be held on Saturday at Cap Lazare for a fun day. This will be a public day where people can come and interact with the tortoises. The public day is geared towards giving people some exposure to giant tortoises and there will be fun and games.
Baxter said that this is to “get public support to protect the tortoises and recognise them as conservation ambassadors for Seychelles and beyond.”
The Aldabra giant tortoise is listed as vulnerable to extinction on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which means that the species face a high risk of extinction in the wild.