Doctor’s House reopens to mark 30th anniversary of national parks


A partial view of the newly renovated Doctor’s House

Located at Anse Jose, the house – which belonged to the island’s doctor William MacGregor when the island was a leper colony – is now a national monument.

Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Transport Joel Morgan opened the house after renovation work was completed, and those present then viewed an exhibition giving information on the history of the island, the leper colony and its Scottish connection.

Also present at the ceremony were MNA for Baie Ste Anne Mitcy Larue, principal secretary for environment Didier Dogley, chairman of the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) Dr Rolph Payet, its managing director Ronny Renaud, staff, students, teachers and sponsors.

Curieuse is one of five parks named for protection on June 11, 1979 under the National Parks and Nature Conservancy Act.

The other four protected sites are Morne Seychellois, Port Launay, Baie Ternay and the Praslin national park.

Guests viewing the exhibition at Baie Laraie

In his opening remarks, Dr Payet said the day was not just to celebrate achievement in conservation but to recognise the dedication and challenges faced by staff of the SNPA.

He said in order to save the national parks for future generations, new approaches, commitment by staff, increased professionalism, and support from the community and government are needed.

Mr Morgan said the marine national parks play an important role in safeguarding marine species, protecting coral reefs and critical habitats.

“As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our marine parks, we pay tribute to the contribution they make towards the local economy,” he said.

He talked about the success of the marine parks in protecting habitats against destructive activities such as inshore fishing of coralline species.

These parks have also seen an increase in the number of nesting turtles over the last 10 years compared to other granitic islands of Seychelles.

Another achievement is the increase in the number of visitors to the marine parks, reaching around 50,000 last year. And there has been an expansion in tourism-related businesses such as yacht charters, dive and other boat operators.

Mr Morgan said the parks face a number of challenges, which include the effects of climate change and finding ways to integrate local coastal communities bordering the marine sites into the management of the park itself.

On behalf of the government and his ministry, he thanked individuals and organisations locally and internationally who have contributed to protecting and conserving the sites.

Recomap – the Regional Programme for the Sustainable Management of the Coastal Zones of the Countries of the Indian Ocean – recently made a financial contribution, which Mr Morgan said will be used to cover restoration work on Curieuse, particularly of its mangrove forests and boardwalk.

As part of the 30th anniversary celebrations, a series of activities aimed at enhancing public awareness through posters, essays and a quiz were organised for primary and secondary schools.

Discovering the island and its ecosystem during the guided tour

Winners were rewarded during the ceremony, receiving educational materials sponsored by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Parks Authority of Australia.

In the essay competition, Senuri de Silva from the International School won first prize, which included a cash prize of R1,500, a book and a certificate. She was followed in second place by Venuri de Silva from the same school, winning R1,000, a book and a certificate.

Third prize went to Plaisance secondary school’s Sophie Belle, who won a cash prize of R800, a book and a certificate.

For the posters in the primary category, Liroy Vidot from Anse Aux Pins primary clinched the first prize, receiving a snorkelling kit, R500, two books and a certificate. Second prize went to Giorenka Edmond from Mont Fleuri primary, who won R300, two books and a certificate. Nashly Ernesta from Mont Fleuri won R200, two books and a certificate as third-prize winner.

In the secondary category, Jose Zelime from Anse Royale won first prize.

He received an underwater documentary DVD entitled Paradise Blue, filmed in Seychelles, a snorkelling kit, R1,000, a book and a certificate. Second prize went to Corina Chang Ty Sing from Anse Boileau secondary, whose prizes included R800, a book and a certificate.

All winners of the poster contest received a T-shirt with the design of the winning poster in the secondary category.

Anse Boileau secondary won the quiz competition and received an educational pack of books, an underwater documentary DVD and posters of Indian Ocean fish. Each student received R500 and a certificate.

Long-service employees and pioneers of the SNPA were also rewarded for their contribution to the success of the parks’ conservation efforts.

They included Joachim Edmond for his contribution to the marine parks and Michel Victor, who has worked for 30 years in national parks management
Other long-serving staff rewarded were Paul Lavigne, Stella Michel, Phillip Julie, Solange Port-Louis, Marie-Claire Rene, Lucianne Suzette and France Mounac.

Bernard Bijoux is currently the longest-serving employee in the organisation with 19 years’ service.

Mr Morgan presented tokens of appreciation to individuals and organisations in the private sector that have supported the parks’ management – Mason’s Travel, Creole Travel Services, Cap du Cerfs, Louis Bedier and Anthony Alphonse.

A guided tour of Curieuse was then organised from the Doctor’s House to Baie Laraie beach, so the visitors could discover the island and its ecosystem.

An exhibition was officially opened by Mr Renaud at Baie Laraie showcasing the various uniforms used by the workers, the winning posters and essays, equipment used on the island, a variety of activities carried out, and pictures and information about the marine park.

Apart from the sponsors, Barclays Bank Seychelles also took part in refurbishing the national monument ahead of the park’s 30th anniversary at the end of May. Thirty-five employees helped to refurbish the house and clean up the grounds.

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