Moyenne Island - The World's Smallest National Park
Moyenne Island is situated two point eight miles from the Indian Ocean island of Mahe, the largest of the Republic of the Seychelles' one hundred and fifteen islands.
At less than half a square mile in size, this tiny private island is the world's smallest national park.
The national park was the brainchild of the island's owner, Englishman and former African newspaper editor, Brendan Grimshaw, who in 1962 bought the then abandoned island for a mere eight thousand pounds sterling, after being asked if he wanted to buy the island by a local child, whilst holidaying in the Seychelles.
Grimshaw bought the island, not to turn it into a party paradise or luxury holiday retreat as many would today, but because he had a passion for wildlife and a need to give something back to the world.
POSITION OF MOYENNE ISLAND WITHIN THE SEYCHELLES ARCHIPELAGO
Grimshaw moved to the island permanently in 1973 along with his Seychelloise friend, Rene Lafortune, and between them they began a labour of love which would last for thirty four years before the tragic death of Lafortune from cancer.
Between them these passionate individuals turned the dense scrub and overgrown vegetation of the long forgotten, abandoned island, into a natural paradise by planting sixteen thousand trees, constructing nearly five kilometres of nature trails, introducing two thousand bird species and raising over one hundred giant land tortoises onto the island, resulting in the island now containing two thirds of all the endemic plants found within the Seychelles Archipelago.
In 1998 the island became an island foundation, ensuring that this Indian Ocean, wildlife paradise would never see a hotel or become a major tourist destination.
After the death of Rene Lafortune and the making of the documentary A Grain Of Sand in 2007, Grimshaw and the documentary makers approached the Seychelles government in order to have the island designated a national park.
The idea for the island to become a national park was whole heartedly accepted by the Seychelles Government, the Seychelles Ministry of the Environment and the Seychelles Island Foundation, resulting in the island becoming part of the six island park of the Saint Anne Marine National Park of the Seychelles in 2007 and designated as a National Park in it's own right in 2008.
FLYING OVER MOYENNE ISLAND
Today the island is open to visitors for small tours around the grounds and light snacks or drinks can be taken at the tiny Maison Moyenne restaurant, all rigorously undertaken solely by the octagenarian Grimshaw, who still remains on his island spending his days happily tending to his giant tortoise nursery and welcoming the islands few visitors.
After a small boat ride over to the island from the Seychelles capital of Victoria on Mahe Island, visitors are able to wander the island with the giant tortoises, who roam free around the island, and take in the delights of the peace, tranquility, birdlife and lush flora and fauna of this unique micro eco - system.
Grimshaw's eight thousand pound investment is now worth over thirty four million Euros, but it's not for sale and never will be, as the island will forever remain Grimshaw's visionary legacy to the world.
In these days of mass capitalism, human avarice and total disrespect for the natural world by certain unscrupulous corporate giants, how many in this day and age would give so tirelessly of their time and energy for zero financial gain or celebrity notoriety? The love, determination and tireless energy of Grimshaw and Lafortune can only be admired and commended.
Brendan Grimshaw, lovers of the natural world both thank you and salute you sir.
To learn more about this natural idyll, view some stunning photography of the island during the making of the documentary A Grain Of Sand and to meet Brendan Grimshaw, visit this website -
MOYENNE AS SEEN FROM VICTORIA ON MAHE ISLAND
All images courtesy of Jean - Francis Martin and Esskay, wikimedia commons.
Read about the indian Ocean - facts-about-the-indian-ocean
Read about another of the world's island, national parks - easter-island-the-ruin-of-rapa-nui