Princess Royal visits both of Seychelles’ World Heritage Sites and praises nature conservation work
By Roland Duval, Seychelles Island Foundation, 25/01/11
On 30th November and 1st December 2010, the Seychelles Islands Foundation was delighted to welcome and host Her Royal Highness, Anne, the Princess Royal with her husband Admiral Timothy Laurence, for an extended tour of the Vallée de Mai and then for a rare flying visit to Aldabra Atoll.
The Princess Royal was accompanied in the Vallée de Mai by Admiral Laurence, the British High Commissioner, Matthew Forbes and Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, who also chairs the SIF Board which administers Aldabra and the Vallée. The party was welcomed by SIF staff led by CEO Dr Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, who accompanied her on a memorable walk through the palm forest, including the new easy access path for people with disabilities. The Princess was then entertained with Creole music and dancers from the Friends of Vallée de Mai group, as well as a spread of Creole food sourced from local suppliers. The Princess also viewed the education materials and crafts of local artisans.
On the following day, SIF Board Members and Aldabra-based staff of SIF were privileged to welcome the Princess and her party to Aldabra for a flying visit. She was accompanied by the Minister for Home Affairs, Environment and Transport Joel Morgan.
Apart from enjoying Aldabra’s pristine flora and fauna, the Princess was impressed by the various scientific research programmes that are being carried out on the island to study and preserve its unique and healthy ecosystem. During her tour of the research centre, the royal delegation was briefed on the various research programmes, including remote sensing of the lagoon, which is being done in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, as well as future plans such as installation of renewable energy technologies to run the station. Before their departure, the Princess and her party were treated to a boat trip into the Aldabra lagoon, where they were able to observe sharks, turtles, rays as well as extensive coral reef in the calm shallow waters.
Speaking on behalf of the Princess Royal, Minister Morgan said she was impressed by the country’s balance between nature conservation and development. He added that the Princess praised the noble task of the SIF and the Seychelles government to maintain Aldabra and the Vallée de Mai as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. SIF staff feel privileged to have hosted this royal visit and very much hope that the Princess Royal will treasure her memories of this special place.
Vallée de Mai (photos by Lea Ketterer Bonnelame)
The Princess Royal in the Vallée de Mai visitor centre (left) and dancing entertainment by Friends of Vallée de Mai (centre and right)
Aldabra (photos by Roland Duval)
The Princess arrives on Aldabra and greets SIF Board members (left), tours the research station (centre) and has a trip into the lagoon (right