The Aride Island is a granitic island belonging to the Seychelles archipelago. It forms part of the district of Grand d’Anse which is situated to at about 10 kilometers to the north of Praslin Island. Aride is mainly a nature reserve with an area of 68 hectares which is administered and run by the Island Conservation Society of Seychelles. The main village of the island is La Cour. It is situated on the southern part of the Island.
The island’s human population comprises of only 8 individuals. These people are the reserve’s staffs which include 2 expatriate Conservation Officers, 2 volunteers and 4 Seychellois rangers. They all live at the main village of Aride. The main type of transportation that they use is bicycle as the island is pretty small and does not have good roads. Vehicles would be too big and inappropriate to circulate around the island.
As the island holds an insignificant number of people, the government does not provide it with any services. There are also no government buildings or whatsoever. The inhabitants have to travel to Praslin for any services they might need.
After the French voyages of exploration which occurred in 1770 and 1771, the Aride Island appeared on the navigation charts.
In 1787, Jean-Baptiste Malavois made a written record of the island describing Aride as ‘no more than a pile of rocks covered with a few bushes’. From 1817 to 1829, people suffering from leprosy were sent to the island.
Irishman Perceval Wright visited Aride in 1868.
Marianne North who was a British artist sketched a scene of the island staff sheltering from the sun beneath a large tree.
Coconut plants were cultivated on the island and copra manufacture became significant economically. Animals such as dogs, cats, chickens and pigs were imported to the island. A wooden plantation house still survives from that period till our times.
For nearly a hundred years, eggs of the sooty tern were cropped. Each season, more than 200 thousands eggs were collected resulting in endemic birds being wiped out. In 1967, Paul Chenard, who possessed Aride at the time, declared the island as a reserve and stopped the egg collection.
The island was purchased by Christopher Cadbury in 1973 who gave it to the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts.
In 1979, Aride was proclaimed as a special reserve under Seychelles law including the marine zone of 200m of the vicinity of the island. Disturbance of its wildlife would result in penalties involving imprisonment.
The island Conservation Society took management responsibility of Aride in 2003. After 3 years, the management of the island was redirected to the UK Registered Charity Island Conservation Society UK. Finally in 2008, the Island Conservation Society of Seychelles leased back Aride.
Nowadays, Aride’s sole purpose is the preservation of species which is supported by ecotourism. The island is renowned for its large amount of seabird colonies including more breeding species than the other island of the Seychelles archipelago. There are also a huge number of lizards which is one of the greatest in the world.
While Aride is an important Nature Reserves, it is also a famous tourist attraction. Many travelers have a hunch to see the wealth of natural treasures that Aride is blessed with. Indeed, the island is still nearly as it was from as it was discovered centuries ago, a wild nature paradise.
Aride welcomes over one million breeding seabirds of ten species including endemic birds such as Fodies, Magpie Robins, Blue Pigeon and Brush Warblers. There are endemic plants like Turtle wrights and Gardenia beaches. Aride is also blessed with a rich marine life.
The island has only one beach. There is no accommodation available for visitors on Arise which mean that you would be able to stay one night on the island unless you want to do it in the wild. However, you can visit the island by boat trips from Praslin during the day. Note that only the vessels of the reserve are allowed disembark on the island.
Flora and Fauna
The island includes the largest colony of lesser noddy and tropical shearwater in the whole world. It also has the highest population of roseate tern in the Seychelles. A large number of non-breeding frigatebirds are also present on the island. On top of that, Aride is visited by over a million of seabirds regularly.
Aride includes 5 species which are found only in the Seychelles. In 1988, the endemic specie namely the Seychelles warbler was introduced to the island from Cousin Island. Today, there are over 2000 pairs of the Seychelles warbler in Aride. The Seychelles fody was also imported to the island in 2002 from Cousin Island. The Seychelles magpie robin was introduced from Fregate Island. Other endemic species on Aride are the Seychelles Sunbird and the Seychelles blue pigeon.
Aride is the only island where you will found the flowering shrub Wright’s gardenia Rothmannia annae.
There are diverse species of skink on the island. While 3 species of non-poisonous snakes and gecko roam the island, there are regular visits from the Hawksbill turtles and Green turtles on the beaches of Aride.