Leonardo DiCaprio & Seychelles join forces to create marine reserves

Leonardo DiCaprio & Seychelles join forces to create marine reserves

In an agreement the first of its kind in world history, Seychelles is to protect large areas in the Indian Ocean to clear some of its national debt.

The island nation has agreed to preserve 210,000 square kilometres of ocean (almost the entire size of the United Kingdom), comprising of two huge marine parks which will cover 15% of Seychelles’ ocean. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s foundation donated $1 million towards funding the debt swap.

The plan restricts tourism and fishing activities to prevent damage to aquatic life. For a country such as the Seychelles, where tourism accounts for 16% of its GDP, this was a difficult, yet important decision.

“We need to be responsible as we sustainably develop our oceans,” Seychelles Tourism Board CEO Sherin Francis said. “By safeguarding our environment, we can also ensure that we are protecting our people against an uncertain future.”

The World’s First Debt Swap Designed to Protect Ocean Areas

In 2016, The Seychelles government agreed on the debt swap with the Nature Conservancy, a US charity, and other investors.

As part of the $21 million deal, the charity and investors, including the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, paid off a part of Seychelles’ national debt.

The country will make future debt payments to the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT). The trust will offer low-interest rates on debt repayments. Any savings will fund new projects designed to protect marine life and fight climate change.

What Will Be Protected?

Seychelles will increase its protected waters from 0.04 to 30 percent by 2020.

The first marine reserve includes the Aldabra islands. Aldabra is home to giant tortoises, rare tropical bird colonies and the dugong – one of the Indian Ocean’s more endangered species. This area will be completely protected, with only research and regulated tourism allowed.

The second area will limit the fishing and tourism activities around the waters of Seychelles’ main islands.

More Information

The Seychelles Islands Official Tourism Site

The historic translocation of Africa’s rarest antelope

The historic translocation of Africa's rarest antelope

Conservation-led travel company andBeyond recently celebrated the success of its breeding programme for Africa’s rarest antelope species by translocating four Ader’s duiker to a brand new breeding site on the island of Zanzibar. With only between 300 and 600 Ader’s duiker remaining in the wild, the breeding programme has been up and running since 2005, when five of the little antelope were introduced onto &Beyond Mnemba Island, a private island paradise situated off the coast of Zanzibar.

With no natural predators and a plentiful supply of food, the duikers have bred extremely well, with the estimated population on Mnemba growing to 35. As a result and at the request of the Minister of Natural Resources and Fisheries in Zanzibar, four animals were recently translocated from the island to form a new breeding population on Unguja Island.

Mnemba-Island-Lodge-view-from-the-sky-3.jpgA team of experts was assembled on Mnemba Island for the translocation in early June, consisting of representatives from Zanzibar’s Department of Natural Resources, as well as Dr Dave Cooper, Head Veterinarian for the Provincial Conservations Department in South Africa, as well as Les Carlisle, andBeyond Group Conservation Manager. The translocation techniques used were influenced by prior research carried out by University of South Africa researcher Lorraine Braby, who had collared a number of the little animals to collect information on their diet and behaviour as part of efforts to improve the outcomes of the breeding programme. Darting the duiker had proved to be most stress-free method of capture and was therefore chosen for the translocation.

The required darting equipment and drugs were provided by andBeyond and, with the placement of the tranquiliser dart on the little animals absolutely critical, the expert skills of Dr Dave Cooper were called upon to dart four duikers. With the little animals running off into the dense forest covering Mnemba on darting, they were quickly tracked, blindfolded and carried back to the loading area. The darts were then removed, the wounds treated and a sedative administered to calm the duiker before the antidote to the immobilisation drug was administered.

Once all four of the little animals were successfully crated, the crates were taken by boat from Mnemba to the main island of Zanzibar. The last leg of the duiker’s trip to their new home was by vehicle.

The historic translocation process, which marks the first time that Ader’s duiker have been moved from Mnemba, is aimed at creating a brand new population of the endangered antelope on Zanzibar, while also ensuring that the number of animals on Mnemba does not exceed the resources available on the island. It is estimated that 25 to 30 duiker remain on the island and, should the animals continue to breed at the same rate, andBeyond plans to translocate 10 to 12 of the little antelope every year.

More Information

andBeyond
andBeyond is one of the world’s leading luxury experiential travel companies, designing personalised high-end tours in 15 countries in Africa, five in Asia and four in South America.

Rhinos Without Borders continues conservation mission

Rhinos Without Borders continues conservation mission

Rhinos without borders 2The Rhinos Without Borders project has ensured a bright future for an additional 12 white rhino, which were recently airlifted to their safe new home in Botswana. In a bid to save the endangered species, the initiative removed the animals from a high risk area in South Africa, where rhino are being poached at the rate of one every seven and a half hours. The project, which aims to translocate a total of a hundred rhino, is spearhead by conservation-minded travel companies &Beyond and Great Plains Conservation.

“Watching the rhino set free in their new home was a very emotional moment,” says &Beyond CEO Joss Kent.

“I know exactly what Joss is talking about,” added Dereck Joubert, CEO and Chairman of Great Plains Conservation and Great Plains Foundation. “As the helicopter lifted off with a rhino and slung it across the Delta, Joss turned and walked to me. We shook hands and embraced. Neither of us said anything, afraid perhaps that the lumps in our throats would betray exactly how emotional we both felt right then.”

Rhinos without borders 3The latest achievement was another milestone towards the project’s goal of bringing a 100 rhinos across the subcontinent, from high risk areas in South Africa to highly protected safe havens in Botswana. Considered a top secret mission, the rhinos were deposited on a dirt airstrip in an undisclosed location by a Botswana Defence Force C130 airplane under heavy military guard. The animals were then ferried to their destination suspended upside down beneath a helicopter. While this method may seem dramatic, it is regarded as the safest and easiest way of getting the heavyweight animals to their new home in remote and otherwise inaccessible parts of Botswana.

The twelve animals that recently arrived in Botswana place the project exactly on target and well established to meet its goal of one hundred rhino.

His Excellency Lieutenant-General SKI Khama, the President of Botswana, as well as TK Khama, the Honourable Minister of Tourism, both participated in the release. The minister expressed his conviction that the unique partnership, which combines government involvement with private companies such as &Beyond and Great Plains as well as private donors, proves that tourism can make a significant difference in the conservation of Africa.

andbeyond-rhinos_without_borders_feb_2015_cbs5972“The number of rhino lost to poachers in South Africa is now higher than the rate at which the species can breed and there is an urgent need to create a new breeding population of rhino in a different geographic region. I firmly believe that we have taken a big step towards ensuring a safer future for the species and I am excited to do even more,” adds Kent.

“It’s not often that one gets the chance to rewrite the future history of a species. A few years ago the ink on the future of rhinos here was just about dry and it told a story of extinction. We’ve changed that and we’ve done it by collaborating with our friends and with like-minded people around the world,” concludes Joubert.

To find out more or to contribute towards future rhino translocations, visit www.rhinoswithoutborders.com