Conception Island | So Seychelles

Conception Island

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Conception Island is a small, uninhabited island of the Seychelles. It is part of the Inner Island Group and two kilometres west of Mahe Island, which is the main island in the country. Conception was a coconut plantation for commercial gain until the middle of the 1970s. Together with Therese Island, Conception is part of the Mahe Island Port Glaud District.

Conception is one of the 42 granitic islands of Seychelles. They are home to about 75 endemic plant species and have had the loss of biodiversity since humans arrived on the islands including the complete disappearance of the giant tortoises from the granitic islands. This was due to the cutting down of the forests. There are herds of giant tortoises today on other islands that were transplanted from Aldabra Atoll, the one place where they still live.

After the mid-1970s, Conception was abandoned and has remained uninhabited. It does not have good beaches for tourist development and has very hilly terrain. The currents around the island and huge waves make it very dangerous for boats to approach the island and almost impossible to land.

Conception has recently been declared a wildlife reserve to protect the very rare Seychelles white-eye and other birds including the Madagascar Turtle-dove, Seychelles blue pigeon and Seychelles kestrel. There are only 400 Seychelles white-eye found in Seychelles and 145 are on Conception.

The conservation of the critically endangered white-eye has been a priority. It was considered one of the most endangered endemic Seychelles birds until 1997 when a previously unknown population of Seychelles white-eye were discovered on Conception Island. The population had decreased to around 50 individuals on Mahe Island. Several were transferred to Fregate Island as well as other islands where the rat population had been eradicated. The bird eats insects and fruit and lives in gardens, scrub and forests. It builds a cup-shaped nest from grass, spider webs and moss and lays two eggs. It is a small grey bird with a white ring around each eye.

The populations are now increasing and the habitats are stable, and in 2005 it was down listed from Critically Endangered to Endangered by International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN).

The Seychelles Blue Pigeon has dark blue feathers on its body with a silvery ruff around its neck. It has a bright red patch of orbital skin from the forehead to the crown.

There are two threatened species of gecko on the island as well as the skink and critically endangered hawksbill turtle. Hawksbill turtles have been legally protected in the Seychelles since 1994, and the species is showing recovery.

The Seychelles Bronze Gecko is a lizard that is indigenous to the Seychelles. It is becoming endangered due to habitat loss. The Seychelles skink is not endangered even though the numbers have declined because it is adaptable to many habitats.

Therese Island is two kilometres south east of Conception, which is two kilometres north east of the Mahe headland at Cap Matoopa. It is one of the biggest satellite islands of Mahe and has a mountainous ridge that runs its entire length. Conception is 600 metres wide, one kilometre long and the hills reach to 131 metres high. The island is still covered with coconut trees.