Roche Caiman Bird Sanctuary

Roche Caiman Bird Sanctuary

The establishment and management of the Roche Caiman Bird Sanctuary was the first project undertaken by the NPTS through campaigning by Ron Gerlach.

In 1986, 4km of coral reef were dredged on the east coast of Mahe and used to create a large area of land. While this reclamation destroyed a considerable area of living coral it inadvertently created an area of habitat that is rare in Seychelles. The settlement pond used during dredging remained as a depression in the coral rubble and partly filled with water at the start of 1987. This coincided with the presence of migratory shorebirds in the region and the open area of shallow water attracted unexpectedly large numbers of birds.

In 1991 plans were made to fill in the settlement pond with rubbish and coral. A campaign was launched to save the small wetland and protect it as an important site for migratory birds. This campaign was successful and 29,000m2 of the area were set aside as a reserve in 1992. From that date until 2001 management of the Roche Caiman Bird Sanctuary was the responsibility of NPTS and the Seychelles Government. NPTS passed full management responsibility for the Bird Sanctuary to the Seychelles Government in 2001.

Since 1992 vegetation changes and bird numbers in the sanctuary have been monitored. In the early years large numbers of wading birds were recorded in the open pools and dry areas. Since 1995 heavy rainfall has resulted in deep permanent water, which has been colonised by reeds. The sanctuary is now mainly used by herons and egrets and has been a major feeding site for grey herons (Ardea cinerea) which re-established as a breeding species on the granitic islands since 1991. It was a very important area for black-crowned night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax)which where first recorded on Mahé in 1992 and have been suspected to breed on Mahé since 1994-5, although the first confirmed breeding in Seychelles was on Silhouette island.

The African Waterbird Census

NPTS was the Seychelles national co-ordinator of the Wetlands International programme to monitor migratory waterbirds. Full census results we republished in 'Birdwatch'.


From 1992 NPTS published a quarterly newsletter on nature reports, conservation and observation in Seychelles. 'Birdwatch' carried reports from most of the reserves in Seychelles, with regular reports from many islands. All new records accepted by the Seychelles Bird Records Committee were first published in 'Birdwatch'. Publication ceased in 2011 when 'Birdwatch' was replaced by 'Seychelles Wildlife News' which ran until 2020, both magazines were edited by Ron Gerlach.

Seychelles biodiversity

Phelsuma journal


Justin Gerlach by e-mail