Ron Gerlach Seychelles artist. Conservation
The Seychelles islands, fragments of granite rock once part of Africa and India, were long isolated and uninhabited in the middle of the Indian Ocean until the first settlers arrived in 1770. The steep forest-covered islands they found were home to many species of fauna and flora that had evolved in isolation on these remote islands. There were gigantic tortoises, dwarf frogs, weird legless amphibians, chameleons and only two naturally occurring mammals - fruit bats and insectivorous bats. The birdlife was limited in variety but nevertheless fascinating subjects to paint and study.The impact of man on the environment has made it imperative that many species and their habitats be protected. Early bird projects were initiated by international organisations. In 1992, the Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles, NPTS, with Ron Gerlach as Chairman, was the first non-government conservation organisation to be registered in Seychelles. From 1997 to the end of 2010, NPTS managed the conservation on Silhouette island, raising its status from neglected agricultural land to its recognition as a major biodiversity hotspot. Silhouette was declared a National Park in 2010 and responsibility for management taken over by the authorities.