History

Silhouette was one of the first island of the group to be seen when the islands were discovered in 1609, but no one settled permanently until the early XIXth century. Fascinating mountain on the Ocean, the island was named after Etienne de Silhouette, a French  Controller, who also gave name to Pointe Etienne, a settlement north of Grand Barbe.

The intrepid corsair Jean-François Hodoul was one of the first owners to venture on the wilderness of the island for few years around 1813 but finally returned to Mahé. Has a ship captain for the French government he had captured many British ships and became a wealthy businessman and plantation owner in Mahé. His huge treasure is said to be hidden somewhere on Silhouette!

The land changed hands frequently until August Dauban, nicknamed the “Rothschild of the Indian Ocean” arrived in the 1850s. During the second half of the 19th century the tropical agricultural industry became the lifeblood of the European economy. Ambitious man, he has seen the prospect of transforming Silhouette into a microcosm of the tropical agricultural empire. By 1860 he owned the entire island and developed extensive plantations. He was an enlightened care taker of Silhouette while his wife, Catherine, look after their people building a school and a clinic.

During this period, Silhouette had several important areas of plantation and population which remaining still can be found in Anse Mondon, Anse Lascars, Grand Barbe, Pointe Etienne, etc…Coprah, cinnamon and vanilla production on Silhouette contributed significantly to the agricultural industry of the Seychelles, relying on these exportations.

When Edouard Dauban had taken over the management of the agricultural ventures on Silhouette he made it imperative that all households on Silhouette should grow a breadfruit tree on their premises – as a source of food and as a precaution against famine. These are still growing everywhere in La Passe.

Henry Dauban, the last of the family to leave on Silhouette struggled to mountain hard wood and rubber plantation during the Second World War. Mont Dauban was named after he participated in Paris 1924 Olympic Games. After his departure in 1960 an area of decline started. Grand Barbe, is now a relic of a once lively settlement, the second on the island, which used to have its own church, Our Lady of Rosary, its own small plantation house, its school, all now in ruins and haunted by the giant tortoises. As in Anse Mondon or Pointe Etienne, time has reversed and nature is back, master of most of the island.

Two monuments highlight the golden age of the family and the island. The plantation house “Grand Case” as named in creole, built in 1860 and home of the Dauban for a hundred years, has been recently restored to its original Splendor. The Dauban mausoleum, a small new classic replica of “La Madeleine”, was built by Auguste after the death of his Daughter. Just behind La Belle Tortue, in a luxuriant palm plantation lies this unique monument, one of the most eccentric in Seychelles.

 

 

Wildlife

The third largest of the granitic islands, Silhouette’s 25 km2 has been preserved thanks to the height of the mountains and the limited amount of development.  It is regarded as the most beautiful equatorial forest and one of the most important biodiversity hotspot of the Indian Ocean where live many endemics species.  Hiking and Ecotourism lovers will feel in Paradise in our island, children will meet Mother Nature..

The park protects more than 2,000 species, the majority is inconspicuous and friendly. The most obvious animals are the large fruit bats you can meet daily in La Passe eating mangos and bread fruits. In the forest you will come across the giant millipede, the abundant snails, the tiny Sooglossid frogs, one of the smallest in the world. You may also  see geckos, chameleon ! In the huge granite boulders is found the sheath-tailed bats, once common in Seychelles and now critically endangered.

On the beach and mangrove, also observe daily the migrating birds and grey herons escaping from the winter.

One of the greatest pleasure between October and March is the sea turtles nestling sight. Both hawksbill turtles and green turtles nest on the island, mostly west part.

Discover a flora which is a mixture of native and alien plants introduced for crops. These latest, all abandoned, can still be found growing in the most unlikely places: cinnamon and copra, Indian almond tree, breadfruit tree, albizzia, Coco-de-Mer planted high in the mountains !

 

 

Conservation

Island Conservation Society (ICS) is a Seychellois non-governmental organization (NGO) that presently operates conservation centres on five islands/atolls in Seychelles: Silhouette, Aride, Desroches, Alphonse, and Farquhar. ICS Silhouette is responsible for the co-management of Silhouette National Park, which comprises 93% of the island’s acreage, and Silhouette Marine National Park, which encircles the island and extends from the high water mark to 1,000 m offshore.

Protecting the island’s legendary biodiversity is a daunting task, and we rely on the support of multiple local, national, and international partners and funders in carrying out our mission to preserve and restore native flora and fauna–and indeed, entire ecosystems. To minimize the impacts of humans on Silhouette Island please abide by the National

Park regulations:
1) No littering
2) No smoking or campfires in the (terrestrial) Park
3) No removal of plants or animals from Protected Areas

If you plan to visit the island’s interior please stay on established hiking trails. If you will be venturing to remote, biologically sensitive locations, please stop by the ICS Silhouette office beforehand so that your footwear and other field gear can be disinfected.

If you will be entering the water please be careful to avoid stepping on corals or otherwise touching marine animals.

For more information about nature conservation on Silhouette Island, please contact the ICS Silhouette team at +248-432-1026 or at silhouette@ics.sc.

For more information about the work that ICS does, please visit our website: http://www.islandconservationseychelles.com

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