Located four degrees south of the equator and a twenty minute flight from Mahe, Fregate Island Private is one of a collection of stunning islands commonly known as the Seychelles. With seven outstandingly beautiful beaches and a tropical environment unlike any other, this small Island is home to some pretty unique species of both the animal and plant variety.
However, since man arrived in the 17th century, the Island has battled to conserve and restore the natural equilibrium of the Island after invasive species, in particular the brown rat, rampaged the island and almost destroyed what was once an idyllic haven. Thankfully just over a decade ago, along with ZSL, the Island went on a mission to repair the damage, starting by eliminating the brown rat. They can now lay claim to being one of the few entirely rat free Islands in the world.
The rare Fregate giant palm beetle was of particular importance, as its status was thought to be extremely vulnerable and ZSL's invertebrate breeding and research programme, which was established in 1996, was pivotal to its current restoration. Without this conservation research the beetle's future may have been very grim but thanks to Fregate Island and ZSL they are now close to thriving once more. Also included in the 'Fregate Beetle Programme' is the equally vulnerable enid snail, whom we also had the pleasure of meeting on our visit.
Now a luxury destination eco-resort with a limited number of exclusive villas, the Island offers an experience like no other. With each villa assigned a personal Butler and a tagline of 'anything, anytime, anywhere', this really is an eco-conscious holiday with a difference. If you ever wanted to meet a giant tortoise or fancied being Robinson Crusoe on your very own Island, then this is the place for you. A new marine wildlife conservation programme has also just been established by the Island with plans to keep the area as preserved and protected as possible.
In order to raise funds for further research ZSL and Fregate Island have recently launched a book entitled 'Island Wildlfe', which includes breathtaking images of the natural beauty of the Island and its inhabitants. The book coincides with the Islands 'Ecologist for a Day' initiative and the two combined will enable this vital conservation work to continue not only on Fregate but around the globe also.
And if you're curious to meet the giant beetles yourself, they can be seen in London Zoo's (BUGS) Biodiversity Underpinning Global Survival Centre, as part of their Tropical Island Ecosystems exhibition where you'll find them next to their previous Island predator....the brown rat! If you do decide to visit ZSL London Zoo don't forget to grab yourself a copy of the 'Island Wildlife' book from the gift shop - all proceeds from the book go directly to helping ongoing ZSL conservation projects around the world.