2967513Painting of Aride Island by Marianne North Gallery at Kew Gardens

Island Conservation Society-Life at the Aride Island Plantation Lodge: past and present


The Aride Island Plantation Lodge

It was the Chenard family’s foresight in 1970 that has preserved the island for future generations, as under their ownership it was declared a private nature reserve with the condition that the island could only be bought for this purpose.

Christopher Cadbury bought Aride in 1973 on behalf of the Royal Society for Nature Conservation and the island became a Special Nature Reserve under Seychelles law in 1975.

Over the years the Lodge fell into disrepair, with rot and termite damage taking their toll. After almost 100 years on the island the building was no longer deemed safe and stood unused from 1997. Renovation of the Lodge began in November 2006.

Initially planned to take two months, it took eight and a half months to complete. However, with the skills and patience of local carpenter Daniel Louise, the advice of Fernando Carceres a conservator and a supply of Sed to replace the rotten wood, the lodge was restored to its former glory using the original techniques and joint design which involves the main frame of the building having no nails!

The lodge is perfectly situated. To the south, along a path lined by Bodanmyen, Bwa Torti, Bwa Mapou, Bwa-d-roz and Lafous, it faces the sea. The ocean breezes drift up the passageway of trees, using the unique design of the building to cool its inhabitants. To the north, the building faces the slope of the hill with its outcropped granitic boulders, providing a ‘back-garden’ with a view of untouched nature.

The number of animals surrounding the lodge is countless. After sunset the eerie wail of the Fouke can be heard as they return to their breeding burrows and again their strange calls are heard just before dawn as they head out to sea for the day to fish. The screeching of Sousouri in the surrounding trees can disturb a light sleeper. The dawn brings the song of a Pisantez, singing to his hearts’ content welcoming the rising sun. The sound of birds remains relentless throughout the day; the chattering of Toktok, the melodies of the Timerl-dezil Sesel, the squealing of a hungry, young Payanke lake blan as a parent arrives with food, the mechanical clicking of the Golan blan and the crawks of the Kelek.

The birds may be more audible, but it is the silent creatures who are the most abundant at the lodge; the relentless Tengteng and Lezar mangouya which appear in droves at mealtimes trying to steal a morsel of food, at night the Solda and Loulou galo creep around and the Geko lie in wait for unsuspecting prey. The lodge truly is a treasure trove for wildlife.

Countless people have resided at the lodge throughout its lifetime. Generations of the Chenard family have been followed by three generations of the Cadbury family, who to this day remain committed to the protection of the island and its wildlife.

The lodge now houses visitors to the island; ICS staff, volunteers and visiting scientists all of whom come to the island to study its unique flora and fauna. The Plantation Lodge is a piece of living history, if only the walls could talk!

The Island Conservation Society promotes the conservation and restoration of island ecosystems.

By Chloe Arnold

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