The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman, the urban wetland managed by Nature Seychelles, has been closed to the public to the dismay of visitors. Recent torrential rains and unusually high tides have caused significant damage to the Sanctuary’s boardwalk forcing the NGO to act to ensure visitor safety.
The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman is in the heart of the Greater Victoria area
Located in the heart of the Greater Victoria area, between the Stad Linite sports complex and the highway from Victoria to Southeast Mahe, the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman is a cherished attraction for students, tourists, and nature enthusiasts.
Situated on reclaimed land, it underwent a remarkable transformation in the early 2000s through an ambitious rehabilitation project led by Nature Seychelles. The aim was to turn it into a wetland reserve that Seychellois could be proud of, an attraction for nature enthusiasts, and an educational resource for local schools.
Several activities were accomplished with international donors' support, including the removal of non-native trees and planting of native ones, tackling the overgrowth of typha reeds that were choking the wetland, re-opening and deepening water areas, creating a scrape for wading birds and a pond dipping area for children, and the diversification of mangrove stands through planting.
The most striking feature of the transformation, perhaps, was the installation of the 200m boardwalk imported from the United Kingdom made entirely from recycled PET bottles. It snaked around the wetland and eased accessibility. A bird hide and a kiosk are also part of the infrastructure.
Nature enthusiasts come to observe birds such as these migrant waders
For close to two decades, the wetland has been a hub of activity for edutainment, tourism, events, and green health activities. For many, it is an oasis of calm; its open waters, lush vegetation, and melodious birdcalls offer a respite from everyday life.
It provides a space for locals and tourists to reconnect with nature, unwind, and recharge their spirits. Families stroll along the boardwalk, nature enthusiasts gather for birdwatching, and school groups embark on educational field trips.
All this has been disrupted, forcing Nature Seychelles to seek assistance for its restoration and maintenance.
This year's World Wetlands Day theme is "Wetlands and Human Well-Being". It emphasizes how critical wetlands are to our physical, mental, and environmental well-being and underscores the importance of wetlands stewardship.
The wetland has been a hub of activity
Sites like these are unique and rely heavily on funds availability to manage them," says Dr Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles’ Chief Executive. “In light of the recent challenges facing our urban wetland, we urgently appeal to local corporate organizations to join us in supporting its restoration and maintenance efforts. By partnering with us, you'll invest in our community's health and well-being."
As Dr Shah points out, this is not the first time the local community and businesses have extended assistance to the Sanctuary. Local and international volunteers, students, wildlife clubs, private businesses, naval officers from visiting ships, and government agencies have all helped with maintenance work on the site, he explains.
“Most recently, the Department of Climate Change within the Ministry of Environment helped to open the channel that leads from the Sanctuary to the sea nearby,” he says.
Businesses and others willing to contribute to reconstruction efforts are encouraged to contact Nature Seychelles.