Monday, April 4, 2016

Turtle and Tortoise Sanctuaries - Zanzibar

We traveled up the coast to head out to the southern tip to a green sea turtle rescue aquarium. The area was once rich with turtles but sadly they have been captured over the year for food as well as their shells. Various groups have worked together to create sanctuaries for the animals. They monitor the nesting grounds and when the babies hatch, they bring the tiny turtles to the sanctuary where they stay for approximately their first

Baby green sea turtle in "rest" position
Looking for food!

year of life. This allows them to be large enough to not be food for too many predators and gives them a good start in life. The aquarium monitors them for any ailments (there’s a fungus that seems to plague the animals) and isolates and treats any turtle that is afflicted. Once released, they will eventually return to the island where they were born to lay their own eggs in the future.

We did get a chance to feed some of the larger turtles that for various reasons could not be released. They certainly do clamor for attention, with the larger ones, of course, wanting the majority of the food and attention!

Prisoner Island seemed to have been misnamed. The prison built on it was supposed to hold rebellious slaves but it actually was never used for that. It did function as a quarantine station for yellow fever and also saw use as a quarantine location for people migrating to the islands. This place also included a tortoise sanctuary for the Aldabra giant tortoises. These are not native to the area but were actually a gift from the governor of the Seychelles. Sadly, once again, these animals were hunted for their meat and shells! They are protected now, although they still have to guard against poachers that regularly try to steal the animals. Babies are always kept in a locked cage to protect them through their early life.

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