Vallée de Mai and Aldabra atoll World Heritage Sites are areas of spectacular natural beauty where an abundance of rare and interesting species of animals and plants abound. Both these unique areas of amazing biodiversity provide almost endless scope for scientific research.
Stronghold of the miraculous endemic Coco de Mer palm, the lush prehistoric forest known as the Vallée de Mai covers an area of 19.5 hectares. Graced by a multitude of unique tropical plant species, the area is also the exclusive home of Seychelles rare Black Parrot. There are only approximately 100-200 pairs of these birds in existence which thrive on the fruits and flowers of the mature palm forest. Some recent research has focused on the conservation and ecology of these fascinating birds and on vegetaton studies. Other key areas of interest include plant and animal biodiversity within Coco de Mer forest, demographic studies of the Coco de Mer palm, fire management and exotic plant species eradication.
Essentially, the miraculous ecosystems of Aldabra represent a natural laboratory for the study of the processes of evolutionary ecology. The atoll is described by many scientists as an unrivalled platform for scientific discovery.
Naturally, the world’s largest tortoise population estimated at 100,000 is a key area of research. There is much interest in effective tortoise monitoring as well as Hawksbill and Green sea turtle monitoring for which Aldabra is known to be an absolute Mecca.
A recent intensive marine monitoring programme has attracted international scientists to explore cutting-edge issues in the region, in particular, the recent coral bleaching event which affected the Western Indian Ocean to a great extent, has provided significant data for extended research.
Currently, there is a project underway focusing on taxonomic studies of avian species in conjunction with a conservation project aimed at the White-throated Rail, the last of the flightless birds in a region renowned for the now extinct Dodo.
Exotic species eradication is an ongoing concern. One of the upcoming projects is an effective programme for the eradication of goats,and possibly cats and rats, which threaten the wondrous habitats of this biodiversity rich atoll.