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Seychelles unique biodiversity

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The Seychelles islands belong to the Western Indian Ocean biodiversity hotspot and the Seychelles Islands ecoregion. The Republic of Seychelles is the home of two UNESCO world heritage sites: the palm forest Vallee de Mai dominated Coco-de-Mer (Lodoicea maldivica), and the atoll Aldabra characterised by giant tortoises as keystone species.

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Biodiversity hotspot

The c. 40 islands of the inner group of the Seychelles (total area of c. 235 sq-km) are unique because they are among the few oceanic islands that are not volcanic. The granitic islands of the Seychelles are of continental origin, i.e. they formed part of the ancient Gondwana supercontinent. Some 130 Mio years ago Madagascar, India and the granitic Seychelles broke away from Africa as a single unit. India and Seychelles separated from Madagascar c. 85 Mio years ago, and c. 65 Mio years ago also India and Seychelles broke apart. They are very isolated from continents, lying nearly 1600 km from the eastern coast of Africa, 930 km from Madagascar and 1700 km from India.

Ancient continental islands

Thanks to their unique geological history and biogeography between Africa and Southeast Asia, the inner Islands of the Seychelles harbour some of the evolutionary and ecologically most distinct plants (see Kapisen 17) and animals of the world. There are c. 270 native flowering plants of which c. 60 are endemic, including an endemic family (Medusagynaceae), several endemic genera, and enigmatic species such as the Coco-de-Mer palm (Lodoicea maldivica) with the largest seed of the plant kingdom. Photos of Seychelles flora can be found here.

The endemic vertebrate fauna includes some 12 birds, 1 fruit-bat, 1 insectivorous bat, several species of reptiles (including giant tortoises), freshwater fishes and amphibians. The amphibians are particularly special and include some of the smallest frogs in the world (measuring only a few millimetres, Sooglossidae family, Gardiner frog, Seychelles frog, Seychelles palm frog, Thomasset's frog) and caecilians.


Unique flora and fauna

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