Nestled between the Stad Linite (National Sports Complex) and the Roche Caiman housing estate, is a unique part of the Victoria landscape. The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman, an urban wetland, is an important green space used for recreation and education by locals and visitors alike. Its location and proximity to Victoria makes it easy to visit.
Visitors are attracted to this green space by its modern infrastructure that includes a recently paved road, an activity centre, a board walk, the wildlife that call it home and by recent green health activities being carried out by Nature Seychelles, the organisation that manages it.
Urban sites like these are important, but they require constant attention to keep them at their most favourable for wildlife and visitors. For this reason Nature Seychelles is currently carrying out extensive rehabilitation work at the wetland and has injected a considerable amount of funds to clear ditches and channels, deepen pools and widen scrapes.
Robin Hanson, the wetland manager explains: "We are enhancing existing features and creating new ones to make them better for the wildlife. Due to the drought the water levels became quite low affecting fish and the birds that feed on them such as herons. Ironically, in January during the rains we were completely flooded for a few days as the wetland filled up quickly. So part of the work we are undertaking is deepening pools to hold water for longer so that in very bad drought conditions the wildlife can still have a habitat. We are also maintaining and clearing ditches to safeguard the reserve from flooding during heavy rains."
Robin also explains that an appropriate mix of plant life has to be maintained either by removing invasive plants that outgrow native ones or planting new native trees. The site has a species of native mangroves, Fouzer Lanmar (Acrostichum aureum) which the organisation is protecting and wants to flourish. "We are creating a channel specifically to direct salt water to the mangroves," says Robin.
The work is being carried out in anticipation of the arrival of migratory birds in the coming months. Although Seychelles is not on the route of the major migration flyways, migratory birds including greenshanks, turnstones, plovers and sandpipers have been recorded at the wetland over the years.
This is not the first time Nature Seychelles is investing in this green space. When the organisation took over management of the site in 2002 it was in bad shape. They conducted a long search for funding to rehabilitate the wetland. Major work was undertaken which removed the Casuarina trees and Typha reeds that clogged the marsh, edged out native mangroves and chocked the wetland system. Areas of open water were cleared to tempt back wading and migratory birds. And a boardwalk and bird observatory made of recycled materials was installed. Interpretive signage that told the history of the site and described the wildlife was also put in. Soon the area became a popular outdoors classroom for school children and wildlife clubs, and a recreation area for the general public.
"Although it requires a lot of effort and money, we are determined to maintain this green space for use by the public," says Nature Seychelles Chief Executive Nirmal Shah.