Injured flying foxes, hawksbill turtles find hope for recovery at Protect Paradise Seychelles
The outlook for orphaned and injured sea turtles and flying foxes is a bit brighter after three friends formed a not-for-profit organisation with a mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release wildlife.
The licensed wildlife rehabilitation centre, Protect Paradise Seychelles, is the brainchild of Christopher Lespoir, Damien Dreyer and Tamara Dreyer, all of whom are passionate about wildlife and the environment.
“We saw a need for this type of service after finding an orphaned baby flying fox in a river. With nowhere to take him, we were left with no option but to hand raise him ourselves. As we have many years of experience working with wildlife in South Africa, we felt we had the necessary skill set needed for this specialised work, so this journey began,” said Tamara Dreyer.
Located at Barbarons in the western Mahe district of the Grand Anse, Protect Paradise Seychelles provides a high standard of professional and expert care to orphaned and injured Seychelles flying fox, injured or sick sea turtles and Aldabra giant tortoise. The organisation also treats birdlife and accepts any endemic wildlife.
Boubou, one flying fox, required a small surgical procedure for her wing. (Protect Paradise Seychelles) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
Dreyer outlined that birds are quite difficult to rehabilitate as they have very sensitive systems. However, flying foxes and turtles have a good chance of survival back in the wild if treated properly and the correct protocols are followed.
Tamara Dreyer told SNA that the team relies on good Samaritans to call Protect Paradise Seychelles on 2757877 or Greenline on 2722111 to access the situation and give advice on the correct steps to take for each particular rescue situation. People interested in making a difference can reach out to the team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If orphaned or young animals are found, our first priority is to try to reunite them with their mothers. If that is not possible or there are signs of injury or trauma, we will then arrange to have the animal relocated to our facility where we follow strict biosecurity measures,” she said.
She explained that each animal rescue case is unique. As such, each animal is observed, accessed and diagnosed with the help of local and international wildlife veterinarians, who offer their support via Zoom or WhatsApp.
So far, the team has rehabilitated six flying foxes and two shearwater birds. The team is currently taking care of four juvenile flying foxes in different stages of development and two hawksbill turtles.
“We have one flying fox, Boubou, who requires a small surgical procedure for her wing. Yasha, ne of our turtle patients, requires a long-term rehabilitation as he was kept illegally in captivity since a hatchling. He is busy learning skills to survive in the wild. Ariel, our second turtle patient, requires a shorter rehabilitation and will be released once her energy levels have improved. She is being treated for severe exhaustion and internal and external infection, impaction and parasites,” outlined Tamara.
The team is taking care of two hawksbill turtles. (Protect Paradise Seychelles) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
Once the animals are strong and show enough skills to survive in the wild, they are released into safe locations. The flying foxes go through a soft release where the enclosure is left open and they can go in and out as they please.
Protect Paradise Seychelles also offer support feeding for a few months once released as the animals need to integrate into the nearby colony and learn where the feeding trees are situated.
“As Yasha was kept in captivity and was humanised to a great extent, we plan to release him in a marine park in the outer islands. He is fortunately a male and therefore does not need to be released near his beach of hatching. Our plan for the future for Yasha’s release is to track him so we can monitor his integration in the wild which we would love to share with our followers via our website which is currently under construction and our social media accounts,” explained Dreyer.
Protect Paradise Seychelles has plans to expand the facility to accommodate an onsite veterinary clinic, educational centre and a visitors area. It is currently working closely with the environment ministry, collaborating on the rescuing of wildlife through Greenline, the National Biosecurity Agency, the Seychelles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) and the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS).