Seychelles is home to one of the largest tortoises in the world, which originated in Aldabra Atoll. Ages ago, Giant Aldabra Tortoises weren’t isolated to Seychelles. Their even bigger ancestors roamed through Australia, India, and Central America, but unfortunately they were hunted to extinction all over the world.
The Giant Aldabra Tortoises have been under the protection of SIF (Seychelles Islands Foundation) since 1979, leading to the greatest population of giant tortoises in the world to this day.
In the Seychelles, the Aldabra Tortoise population exceeds the human population of over 100.000. These gentle creatures are classified as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species). They are protected by Seychelles Law under the “Wild Animals and Birds Protection Act”.
These magnificent animals can reach sizes of up to 250 kilograms and ages of up to 250 years old. Mainly, Aldabra Tortoises eat grass and woody plants. However, they can alter their eating habits often when searching for food. Tortoises are cold-blooded animals, which means they can survive for several months without any food or water. Like humans, tortoises dislike mosquitoes. To avoid them, they wallow in mud to protect themselves. These tortoises can sleep an average of 18 hours a day.
The breeding season extends from February to May. The female Aldabra Tortoises can nest twice every season. They carry the eggs for ten weeks or more, and after this period they bury them in the ground. Females may only lay four to twenty five eggs every few years depending on temperatures. When courting, the male will fight against other tortoises to catch the female’s attention. Afterwards, he batters his shell against the female over a dozen times and makes a very deep and trumpeting call when mating.
Our goal is to offer our guests healthy, sustainable food and also to eliminate food waste. We strive to reduce food waste by composting restaurant leftovers and donating them to local farmers for feeding their livestock. Additionally, vegetable & fruit waste are used for feeding our Giant Aldabra Tortoises and baby tortoises for which we have adopted and dedicated a sanctuary.
The Tortoise Sanctuary
The Aldabra Clean-Up Project is one of the key initiatives Raffles Seychelles takes to preserve by supporting and funding the project. Aldabra atoll is far away from Seychelles’ archipelago’s granitic inner islands recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The atoll is considered one of the most biologically diverse and undisturbed raised coral atolls in the world. Its lagoon is so large that the main island of Seychelles, Mahé, could fit inside it. Today Aldabra boasts the largest population of giant tortoises anywhere in the world made easier by the so far 25.7 tonnes of collected plastic.
At the resort, we have fourteen adult tortoises; nine from nearby small hotels and guest houses, and five from private owners on the island. Additionally, we have Bernard, Zedi, and Andy, our baby tortoises that were born on the property. We are still in the process of naming the remaining eleven adults.