Saturday, February 28, 2015

Another busy week

Its been another busy week!We met Johanna from Wildlife Vets International who spent a day with us giving lectures on turtle and terrapin health and treatment. She inspected our tanks and also gave a health check to our four resident terrapins. We are very happy to report they were all given the all clear. Johanna will now spend a few days on the other islands and will return to us again briefly next week for some final training before returning to the UK.

Vet Johanna - checking the health of the terrapins
 Work continues both in and outside the centre at a rapid pace. This week the hotel maintenance team have been busy leveling the area for the tanks and installing the electricity needed to run the pumps and filters. Inside, the painting continues. The first batch of our posters was also collected from the printers. These will be displayed in the centre with lots of information about the animals that can be seen in the wetland and the work that we are doing.
Hotel workers organising the tanks
Beach wall

Wetland wall

Beach patrols have been continuing and we are happy to report more nests successfully hatching and yet another turtle came up to lay. One lucky family staying in a beach villa was there to watch as the turtle laid her eggs and then returned to the sea.  While waiting for her to complete her nesting, Rachel was answering all sorts of questions from the whole family.

Rachel with the lucky family who had the turtle nest outside their villa
Nesting sunbird
Other happenings in Intendance, we spotted an unusual visitor this week. A duck has been making use of the ponds around the hotel, we are trying to identify what species it is. We also have a lot of Sunbird nests at the moment and many Moorhen chicks running around. 
Visiting duck

Stay tuned for the next Centre update...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Almost There!

This past week, everything inside the centre has been full steam ahead, as our grand opening is next week. Throughout the week, the Turtle Patrol Team has been coming in to help us with games and decorations (as much as possible is made from recycled material) and frantic painting sessions have ensued.

The girls making kids games from recycled cardboard

Dr. Imogen Webster painting wetland designs on the wall

Turtle Patrol Team Leader  Vanessa and Conservation Team member Rachel cutting rings out of plastic bottles.

But the fact that the inside of the centre isn’t ready yet hasn’t stopped more guests coming up to see us! As the deadline approaches, the centre’s been gaining momentum and we’ve had at least three couples come up to visit us and see the terrapins in the past week – a bit like a soft opening. We’ve also succeeded in setting up our terrapin tanks with our new pumps. After just a couple of days, the water in the tanks is sparkling clean – which is perfect for watching terrapins swim!

Our two tanks connected to pumps and filters

Guests have also accompanied us on turtle patrol. On Friday we were joined by six guests to dig up a nest we’d seen a lot of activity from in the past couple of nights. Unfortunately, when we started digging up the nest we found many dead hatchlings, many of which were still partially trapped inside their eggs (this is called pipping). Despite the nest being surrounded by a barrier, we’d observed footprints on the nest earlier in their development, which would have compressed the sand surrounding the eggs, making it harder for them to emerge. However, to the delight of the guests we managed to save 13 hatchlings and release them from their sandy prison as they were weak and the sky was overcast. The excitement attracted a big crowd to the hatchlings’ journey down the beach, so it was fortunate that the Turtle Patrol Team arrived just in time to assist us. Their initial passage through the sand to the water allows hatchlings to imprint on the area, helping them to find their way back after they have matured to return to the same spot for laying. As such, it is important to minimise interference with this natural process.

A Banyan Tree guest helping the Conservation Team dig up a nest

A rescued hatchling heading for the sea

The guests waving off the hatchlings as they venture into the sea

Today we welcome Johanna from Wildlife Vets International to the centre to teach us some rehabilitation techniques. Read our blog next week to learn about our new skills and see the completed centre!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Setup continues

This last week we have been concentrating on setting up the rest of the tanks ready for more terrapins. However, due to the very dry conditions we have not found any new animals as they bury themselves away under the soil and leaf litter.Our four resident terrapins have been behaving the same way making it difficult to find them as well. 
Testing the pump and filter setup that will be fitted to the breeding tanks
We still have a few turtles coming onto the beach to lay. It is now late in the season so these encounters are getting fewer and fewer. However, now there are lots of nests hatching. So we are keeping busy digging them up to see how successful they have been. Sometimes this means we find a few hatchlings that have become too weak to dig themselves out and have to help them to the water. 
Guests joining us on beach patrol and helping us dig up a nest - they were lucky enough to help release several that had become stuck in the soil
Some of the guests who watched as we released some hatchlings - how many can you spot in the picture?
A big thank you to our friend Allegra who helped us all week with our turtle patrols and also came to the centre to visit the terrapins. She made us a beautiful picture that will be part of the turtle display. 
Allegra, one of the younger guests, helping Rachel measure the turtle track
We have also started to decorate the centre and will be posting photos as we progress. We are excited to have had confirmation that our friends at Wildlife Vets International ( will be coming out for a few days in the last week of February to join us at the centre and teach us a few things about looking after our terrapins and turtles and probably some other wildlife as well. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Special Edition: Terrapin bios and World Wetland Day :)

Monday 2nd Feb was World Wetland Day. According to WWF more than half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900. These areas are important as they play and number of roles in the environment such as water purification, and flood control. They are also one of the most biologically diversity ecosystems supporting large numbers of plants and animals. 

Here in Seychelles these areas are the home to our two critically endangered terrapins as well as many bird species. If you didn’t celebrate wetland day take the time this week or over the weekend to visit your local wetland for a picnic, clean-up activities or a simple walk to appreciate the scenery.

Introducing our special guests:

Stumpy – this stunning Yellow-Bellied Mud Turtle is the only member of her species currently vacationing at our facilities. Originally found dawdling by the side of the road, she seemed unable to use her back legs so she was brought in for observation. She appears to be revelling in the water-sports facilities provided and enjoys long naps – this combination has strengthened her legs. We are currently on the prowl for a mate for this lovely lady.

Fatso – Stumpy’s charming tank companion. As her name suggests, this female Black Mud Turtle is very well-endowed, being almost as wide as she is long. Stumpy and Fatso have been roommates from Day 1, as she was caught in one of our traps. She also is on the prowl.

Rambo and Sharky – Next-door, in the neighbouring tank we have the charming Rambo who seems to have a vitamin deficiency causing his eyes to appear white. This gentleman was caught in the same trap as his female roommate, Sharky. This Black Mud Turtle couple is the beginning of our breeding program… We hope to give you some good news in the coming months!