Seychelles : Praslin & Curieuse - february 2019

For your reports/images, made outside Europe and the "Mediterranean" countries. Not to be too narrow minded and limited to our European/Mediterranean herps.

Seychelles : Praslin & Curieuse - february 2019

Postby Robin Duborget » Tue Mar 19, 2019 3:27 pm

Hi all,

Here we go again for an island trip herping report ! It's not that the corsican guy only want to visit other islands but it's true that they are perfectly suited for "family" herping with a young child. It's safe, there is incredible beaches, hiking trails, and kind people with nice food.
ImageAnse Citron, Praslin by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

There is not a lot of species, but each of thems is interesting, telling a story about evolution, and geology of this old eroded continent (Seychelles are not volcanic).

We had only two weeks, so we went only to three islands : Praslin, Curieuse and Mahé. Thanks to Bobby and Laura, who have been here two years ago, we have a lot of informations about herps in Seychelles !

Mahé, with the trails, the cloud forest, and the frogs is interesting, but we prefered Praslin, at least for the atmosphere, but also for fabulous Ailuronyx species, and one of the most beautiful palm forest on earth : Vallée de Mai.

Here the link to my flickr album, with all the pictures : https://www.flickr.com/gp/141135600@N04/nH679T

And the report :
After a very looooooong flight to Mahé with a sick baby, we took the boat to Praslin. We only manage to go to the house we rent (in a remote place : Anse la Blague) for sleeping at least all the afternoon. At night, near the house, I spotted Phelsuma species and a lot of house geckos (maybe Gehyra, what do you think ?) :
ImagePhelsuma astriata by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
Imagecf Gehyra mutilata by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

We spent the first full day walking around Praslin :
ImageAnse la Blague, Praslin by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
ImageAnse la Blague, Praslin by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

Second day we went to vallée de Mai, an Unesco site. Unesco always mean bus of tourists. But by luck, these tourist stay near the entrance ("green washing" is always limited) :
ImageVallée de Mai, Praslin by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
The site is fabulous, we never saw this kind of forest, with a strongly represented species of palm : the Coco de Mer (Lodoicea maldivica) :
ImageVallée de Mai, Praslin by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
ImageLodoicea maldivica (Coco de Mer) by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
Vallée de Mai is also home to the endemic black seychelles parrot :
ImageCoracopsis barklyi (Vaza/Perroquet des Seychelles) by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
ImageCoracopsis barklyi (Vaza/Perroquet des Seychelles) by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

In Vallée de Mai there is three species of endemic geckos of the genus Ailuronyx : a small one (size of our european Tarentola) Ailuronyx tachyscopaeus, a "medium" one Ailuronyx seychellensis and a giant : Ailuronyx trachygaster. All of them are mainly in palm forests, but the last is only know from Coco de mer crown forest (so Vallée de Mai, in Praslin, and maybe somewhere in Silhouette). This kind of three very differents, but close, sympatric species remind me of the Anoles ecomorphs of greater antilles.

We spent the full day looking for them but we only found tachyscopaeus and a big seychellensis on the leaves of Coco de Mer :
ImageAiluronyx tachyscopaeus by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

Seychelles skinks are everywhere on Praslin :
ImageTrachylepis seychellensis by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

At night, I went alone, looking in Palm forests near Vallée de Mai for Ailuronyx species but only manage to find the endemic Tachycnemis seychellensis :
ImageTachycnemis seychellensis by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

Next day we tried the Fond Ferdinand reserve, but in two years, this place became an attraction for bus of tourists, fleing the entrance cost of Vallée de Mai. At least there is Phelsuma sundbergii (also common on Vallée de Mai) :
ImagePhelsuma sundbergi by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

I will not recommend it for true naturalists, or herper, even for the sight :
ImageDepuis Fond Ferdinand : Baie Sainte-Anne & La Digue by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
It's true that there is Coco de Mer, but it's not an old growth forest, look more like an exploitation. And the obligation to go with at least forty tourists on a walk, with a not at all naturalist guide .... Not one of our best moments of the trip.

The next day we go on an nocturnal walk (the first for Marcel, our child !) around Pasquières trail, mainly for looking for the elusive seychelles Chamaeleon :
ImagePlaine hollandaise, Praslin by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

It was dry, very dry and with nearly all the trail done, we only found species (herps, insects) near the road, with this interesting gecko (Urocotyledon inexpectata), but no Chamaeleon :
ImageUrocotyledon inexpectata by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

For at least taking a sight on the giant seychelles turtles we went on Curieuse :
ImageBaie Laraie, Curieuse by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
ImageAldabrachelys gigantea by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

But too much tourists for us, and the grasslands full of turtles where too similar to a zoo for us, but at least it's beautiful (and full of mangrove crabs !) :
ImageAnse St-José, Curieuse by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

The night, one of the last on Praslin, I went near Grand'Anse, for Archaius tigris, the seychelles Chamaeleon. This species seems difficult to found but thanks to Bobby, I found several of them in an interesting site where they are common :
ImageArchaius tigris by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
ImageArchaius tigris by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
ImageArchaius tigris by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
ImageArchaius tigris by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

Near vallée de Mai, I also found another Archaius and this beautiful Ailuronyx tachyscopaeus :
ImageAiluronyx tachyscopaeus by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

The first day in Vallée de Mai we met with a friendly scientist, which was working on Ailuronyx species of Vallée de Mai. Thanks to her advices, I went again in this strange forest looking for the giant :
ImageAiluronyx trachygaster by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
And here it is, the only individual we saw ! A big (but small in comparison with others) 30 cm female.
This species, like the rest of the genus Ailuronyx, are becoming rarer and rarer in the Vallée for an unknow reason. Maybe poching, some german peoples have been caught in Seychelles with them at hand. Also in comparison with Bobby trip, the white slugs have also completly disappeared from Vallée de Mai. Maybe climate change, with less raining on Seychelles. This need to be studied.

An Archaius from Vallée de Mai :
ImageArchaius tigris by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

For our last night in Praslin, after a quick bath in Anse Bateau, we choose to go to the Archaius site, as my wife wanted to saw them :
ImageAnse Bateau, Praslin by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

ImageArchaius tigris by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
ImageNaturalistes & Archaius tigris by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
ImageArchaius tigris by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

According to Seychelles naturalists, there is two species of Archaius in Seychelles, one from Praslin only (the green one), and one, tigris, on Praslin and Mahé. It's true that there is on Praslin spotted and green Chamaeleons, but for me, it's more like polymorphism than true species.

This night not only we found two Archaius but also one big Ailuronyx seychellensis :
ImageAiluronyx seychellensis by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr
Medium, yes, but big in fact, at least 25 cm for this one.

So thanks Bobby for the site :)

The week has ended, and we must now go to Mahé, but not without a kind goodbye from the seychelles blue pigeon :
ImageAlectroenas pulcherrimus (Seychelles blue pigeon) by Robin Duborget, sur Flickr

I will do the second part with Mahé next week.

Robin
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Re: Seychelles : Praslin & Curieuse - february 2019

Postby Michal Szkudlarek » Tue Mar 19, 2019 5:44 pm

Beautiful photos.
Btw could you understand Seychellois Creole language?
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Re: Seychelles : Praslin & Curieuse - february 2019

Postby Guillaume Gomard » Tue Mar 19, 2019 8:56 pm

Salut Robin,

I had a very good time looking at your Flickr gallery, I really like that you document all types of animals there and not only herps. As always, I am amazed by these beautiful Nepenthes in this place. It should be great for your baby to be face to face with such huge turtles ;)
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Re: Seychelles : Praslin & Curieuse - february 2019

Postby Robin Duborget » Wed Mar 20, 2019 4:47 pm

Guillaume Gomard wrote:Salut Robin,

I had a very good time looking at your Flickr gallery, I really like that you document all types of animals there and not only herps. As always, I am amazed by these beautiful Nepenthes in this place. It should be great for your baby to be face to face with such huge turtles ;)


Thanks Gauillaume. Yep, always trying to photograph all type of wildlife, especially insects (katytid are my favourite !).
Baby dont't liked the turtles, he was afraid of them :D

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:Beautiful photos.
Btw could you understand Seychellois Creole language?


A bit, but it's very similar to Antilles creole language, with a bit of english in it.

Robin
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Re: Seychelles : Praslin & Curieuse - february 2019

Postby Bobby Bok » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:13 pm

Great pictures and great finds, rrrreally love the evolutionary history of the Seychelles and I am quite keen on getting back there. Still need to see that darn Seychelles House Snake!
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Re: Seychelles : Praslin & Curieuse - february 2019

Postby Robin Duborget » Fri Mar 29, 2019 8:40 am

Bobby Bok wrote:Great pictures and great finds, rrrreally love the evolutionary history of the Seychelles and I am quite keen on getting back there. Still need to see that darn Seychelles House Snake!


Yep, it's clear for us that we will also going back there ! At least for other islands, like Silhouette, La Digue, or Aride. With these island prices, we will certainly wait some years ;)

Tell me when you think to return to Seychelle, maybe we could tags along.

Robin
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Re: Seychelles : Praslin & Curieuse - february 2019

Postby Bobby Bok » Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:28 pm

Robin Duborget wrote:
Bobby Bok wrote:Great pictures and great finds, rrrreally love the evolutionary history of the Seychelles and I am quite keen on getting back there. Still need to see that darn Seychelles House Snake!


Yep, it's clear for us that we will also going back there ! At least for other islands, like Silhouette, La Digue, or Aride. With these island prices, we will certainly wait some years ;)

Tell me when you think to return to Seychelle, maybe we could tags along.

Robin


For me too! Silhouette and especially Fregate must be very cool. The first because it has almost all endemic reptiles and the second because of the endemic beetles. And the House Snake should be very common there because there aren't any tenrecs supposedly!
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