Tag Archives: Seychelles

Nesoenas picturata ssp. aldabrana (Sclater)

Amirante Islands Turtle Dove (Nesoenas picturata ssp. aldabrana)

The Amirante Islands are a group of small coral islands in the so-called outher Seychelles southwest of the Seychelles main islands.

These islands were once inhabted by an endemic subspecies of the Madagascar Turtle Dove (Nesoenas picturata (Temminck)), which actually might even warrant species status.

The Amirante Islands Turtle Dove was apparently extirpated by direct hunting, because the birds were seen as a pest; the last individuals were seen in the 1950s.

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Depiction from: ‘P. L. Sclater: Description of a new species of dove from the coralreef of Alabra. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1871: 692-693′

(public domain)

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edited: 07.05.2022

Coenosia extincta Pront

Extinct Mahé Fly (Coenosia extincta)

This species was described in 2009 based on a single male specimen that was collected in March, April or May 1892 on the island of Mahé, Seychelles Islands.

The species was never found since its original collection and was thus considered extinct by its author. [1]

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References:

[1] Adrian C. Pont: A new species of Coenosia Meigen, 1826 from the Seychelles Islands (Insecta, Diptera: Muscidae). Phelsume 17: 9-11. 2009
[2] Justin Gerlach: Red List ing reveals the true state of biodiversity: a comprehensive assessment of Seychelles biodiversity. Phesluma 20: 9-22. 2012

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edited: 30.10.2020

Taomyia ocellata (Lamb)

Ocellated Fruit Fly (Taomyia ocellata)

This species was described in 1914, it was endemic to the Seychelles Islands (which island(s) exactly?), from where it was not recorded in recent years, it is thus considered extinct. [1]

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References:

[1] Justin Gerlach: Red Listing reveals the true state of biodiversity: a comprehensive assessment of Seychelles biodiversity. Phelsuma 20: 9-22. 2012

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edited: 26.11.2018

Oeceoclades seychellarum (Rolfe ex Summerh.) Garay & P. Taylor

Seychelles Oeceoclades Orchid (Oeceoclades seychellarum)

This species was a terrestrial or epiphytic (depending on which source) orchid, that was restricted to the island of Mahé, Seychelles Islands.

The Seychelles Oeceoclades Orchid is said to have been very similar in vegetative morphology to the closely related Malagasy Lanceated Oeceoclades Orchid (Oeceoclades lanceata (H. Perrier) Garay & P. Taylor), from which it differed, however, in some floral characteristics, especially by its proportionally shorter lip.

The species is known exclusively from the type specimen that was collected in 1902 in a region that was covered with intact mountain forest at that time, but that now is degraded by human activity and overgrown with introduced invasive plant species. 

The Seychelles Oeceoclades Orchid is thus considered extinct.

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The species was once cultivated in the Botanical Garden of Kew, Great Britain at the beginning of the 20th century, but seems to have disappeared from there as well.

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References:

[1] Justin Gerlach: Red Listing reveals the true state of biodiversity: a comprehensive assessment of Seychelles biodiversity. Phesluma 20: 9-22. 2012

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edited: 26.11.2018

Margatteoidea amoena Bolívar

Desroches Cockroach (Margatteoidea amoena)

The Desroches Cockroach is, resp. was endemic to the island of Desroches, an only 3,24 km² large area of land in the Desroches Atoll in the Amirante islands group of the outer islands of the Seychelles. The species is known from only five specimens that were collected in 1905.

The males reached a length of about 1 cm; the females were smaller.

The Desroches Cockroach disappeared due to the destruction of the island’s indigenous flora.

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References:

[1] Justin Gerlach: Red Listing reveals the true state of biodiversity: a comprehensive assessment of Seychelles biodiversity. Phelsuma 20: 9-22. 2012

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edited: 28.04.2021

Mecistocephalus sechellarum Demange

Silhouette Geophilomorph Centipede (Mecistocephalus sechellarum)

The Silhouette Geophilomorph Centipede was described in 1981 based on a single specimen that was collected from a wooded site on Mt. Daban on Silhouette Island in the Seychelles.

The species reaches a length of at least 4,8 cm, it is mainly pale yellowish colored, its head and front segments are reddish brown. [1]

The species was never recorded since and is considered most likely extinct.

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References:

[1] Lucio Bonato; Alessandro Minelli: The geophilomorph centipedes of the Seychelles (Chilopoda: Geophilomorpha). Phelsuma 18: 9-38. 2010

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edited: 28.04.2021

Glabrennea silhouettensis (Verdcourt)

Silhouette Glabrennea Snail (Glabrenna silhouettensis)

The Silhouette Glabrennea Snail was described in 1994, it restricted to a very small area on Mt. Dauban on the island of Silhouette, Seychelles Islands, when it was discovered in 1990.

The species apparently was an inhabitant of leaf litter.

The Silhouette Glabrennea Snail was only ever found at its type locality, once in 1990, and a for second time one year later in 1991, when its population was already declining. All subsequent searches (2000, 2009, 2010) at the type locality and other suitable areas failed to find the species again which thus is considered extinct. [1]

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References:

[1] Justin Gerlach: Red List ing reveals the true state of biodiversity: a comprehensive assessment of Seychelles biodiversity. Phesluma 20: 9-22. 2012
[2] Justin Gerlach: Changes in non-marine mollusc populations in the Seychelles islands 1986-2012. Phelsuma 20: 23-38-2012

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edited: 26.11.2018

Polyscias sechellarum var. contracta F. Friedmann

Bois Banane (Polyscias sechellarum var. contracta)

The Bois Banane (Polyscias sechellarum Baker) is endemic to the Seychelles Islands, where it occurs or occurred on the islands of Curieuse, Félicite, La Digue, Mahé, Praslin, and Silhouette.

The species is split into at least three varieties of which the one discussed here apparently was restricted tot he island of Mahé, from which, however, it was not recorded in recent surveys, it is thus considered most likely extinct. 

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edited: 26.11.2018

Nephele leighi Joicey & Talbot

Leigh’s Sphinx Moth (Nephele leighi)

 

This species was described in 1921, it is apparently known from only four specimens that were collected on the islands of Mahé and Silhouette, Seychelles Islands.

The last specimen, a male, was obviously collected in 1969, since that date there has not been any trace of this species, which is now feared to be extinct.

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References:

[1] Pat Matyot: The hawkmoths (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) of Seychelles: identification, historical background, distribution, food plants and ecologiclal considerations. Phelsuma 13. 55-80. 2005
[2] Justin Gerlach: Red List ing reveals the true state of biodiversity: a comprehensive assessment of Seychelles biodiversity. Phesluma 20: 9-22. 2012

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female

Photo: The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London
http://sphingidae.myspecies.info/file-colorboxed/9071

(under creative commons license (3.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

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edited: 27.04.2022

Zalmoxis ferrugineus (Roewer)

Seychelles Zalmoxis Harvestman (Zalmoxis ferrugineus)

This species was described in 1912; it is, or maybe was, endemic to the Seychelles, the exact locality, however, is apparently not known.

The cephalothorax reaches a length of 0,5 cm, the legs reach lengths of 0,6 to 1 cm, they are covered with variable spikes; the species is generally rusty colored, except for the eyes which are black.

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References:

[1] C. Fr. Roewer: Die Familien der Assamiden und Phalangodiden der Opiliones-Laniatores. Archiv für Naturgeschichte 78(3): 1-244. 1912

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Depiction from: ‘C. Fr. Roewer: Die Familien der Assamiden und Phalangodiden der Opiliones-Laniatores. Archiv für Naturgeschichte 78(3): 1-244. 1912’

(public domain)

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edited: 26.04.2022

Hirstienus nanus (Hirst)

Small Mahe Harvestman (Hirstienus nanus)

The Small Mahe Harvestman was described in 1913; it was endemic to the island of Mahé in the Seychelles.

The species has not been seen since its discovery in 1908 and is thought to be extinct; unfortunately I have not been able so far to find any further information about this species.

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edited: 17.05.2022

Palaeornis wardi Newton

Seychelles Parakeet (Palaeornis wardi)

The Seychelles Parakeet was described in 1867, it was already very rare at that time and restricted to only two islands in the Seychelles, Mahé and Silhouette, it might formerly have occurred on all of the islands.

The species was closest related to the Alexandrine Parakeet (Palaeornis eupatria (L.)) from which it differed mainly by the lack of a rose-colored neck collar; it was formerly also merged with that species. 

The Seychelles Parakeet was last recorded in 1883 when the last known specimen died in captivity, the species died out because it was heavily hunted for being a ‘pest’ to crops. 

Marianne North, a botanical artist, depicted a live pair of this species on the island of Mahé when she visited the family of Dr. James Brooks, a colonial medical officer on the Seychelles. She also wrote some notes about these two birds:

He and his Greek wife were very kind and hospitable in their offers to me. I went one day to their house, and painted their parrots, which came originally from Silhouette: queer, misshapen birds, with enormous beaks and patches of red and yellow badly put on, one of them having a black ring round its neck. Both were quite helplessly bullied by common pigeons, which came and ate up their food, while they jabbered in a melancholy way, and submitted. They had absolutely no tops to their heads, which perhaps accounted for their stupidity. They had a stand on the back verandah, where they slept and were fed. They were not tied up, but went and stole their own fruit off the neighbouring trees.” [1]

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References:

[1] Anthony S. Cheke: Animals depicted by Marianne North in her Seychelles paintings. Phelsuma 21: 47-57. 2013
[2] Michael P. Braun; Thomas Datzmann, Thomas Arndt; Matthias Reinschmidt; Heinz Schnittker; Norbert Bahr; Hedwig Sauer-Günth; Michael Wink: A molecular phylogeny of the genus Psittacula sensu lato (Aves: Psittaciformes: Psittacidae: Psittacula, Psittinus, Tanygnathus, †Mascarinus) with taxonomic implications. Zootaxa 4563(3): 547-562. 2019

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Depiction from: ‘Alfred and Edward Newton: On the Psittaci of the Mascarene Islands. The Ibis, ser. 3(6): 281-289. 1876’

(not in copyright)

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edited: 14.06.2020

Zosterops semiflavus E. Newton

Marianne White-eye (Zosterops semiflavus)

The Marianne White-eye was described in 1867, it was known only from Marianne Island in the Seychelles but may as well have occured on other islands within the island group including La Digue, Mahé, Praslin, and Silhouette.

The species was originally thougth to be a subspecies of the Mayotte White-eye (Zosterops mayottensisSchlegel) which it closely resembles, it is, however, more closely related to the Mascarene White-eye species and was restored to a full species in 2006. 

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The species disappeared sometimes between 1870 and 1900, the reasons for its demise, however, appear to be unknown but very likely lay in habitat destruction through agricultural development. 

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References:

[1] Justin Gerlach: Red List ing reveals the true state of biodiversity: a comprehensive assessment of Seychelles biodiversity. Phesluma 20: 9-22. 2012

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(lower bird)

Depiction from: ‘G. E. Shelley: The birds of Africa, comprising all the species which occur in the Ethiopian region. London, published for the author by R.H. Porter (18 Princes Street, Cavendish Square, W.) Vol. 2. 1900’  

(public domain)

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edited: 17.05.2019

Papilio phorbanta ssp. nana Oberthür

Small Seychelles Swallowtail (Papilio phorbanta ssp. nana)

The Small Seychelles Swallowtail was described in 1879; it was endemic to the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean; it is apparently known from only two specimens, a male and a female, which were collected sometimes prior to 1880.

The Seychelles subspecies differed from the nominate form from Réunion by being approximately half their size.

This form is now clearly extinct; yet it may not even have been a distinct subspecies, because some entomologists think that the form was just accidently introduced from Réunion with the import of citrus plants, which are one of the known larval food plants of this species. The markedly small individuals found on the Seychelles may then probably just have been some kind of puny form, that for some unknown reason just stayed smaller than usual. [2]

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The following account refers to the nominate form which inhabits the island of Réunion.:

Confined to Bourbon [Réunion], where it is known as P. disparilis, Boisd. Common, not to say abundant, on the coast and up to about 2,000 feet. I never saw a single specimen at 3,000 feet, and its distribution is no doubt determined by the food plant. It feeds on citron, and the larva has been figured and described by Vinson. It is no doubt unpalatable in the larval stage. The female is aberrant, and is an admirable example of what Scudder calls “colourational antigeny” in which it is the female that departs from the normal colouring of the group to which the species belongs. It is presumably a mimic of Euploea goudoti, and in such a small island as Réunion the exciting cause should not be difficult to discover. I may say fairly confidently that there is no bird now existing which makes any marked ravages among the butterflies. Indeed birds are conspicuous by their absence, and are as rare in Réunion as they are in France and Italy, and for the same reason; affording a marked contrast to Mauritius, where they are protected and consequently abundant.
I was informed, however, by Dr. Jacob, who has resided for some fifty years in Réunion, that at one time the now extinct “starling” (Fregilupus varius) was decidedly common, especially in those parts more particularly frequented by P. phorbanta, and, judging by the stuffed specimen in the St. Denys Museum, I should say that the bird was entirely insectivorous. I throw out the suggestion that it was this bird that was the main cause of this case of mimicry.
” [1]

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[1] N. Manders: The butterflies of Mauritius and Bourbon. Transactions of the Entomological Society of London 429-454. 1907
[2] James M. Lawrence: A short note on the biogeography of the rarely observed Seychelles butterflies. Phelsuma 23: 1-5. 2015

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Reunion Swallowtail (Papilio phorbanta), nominate race

Depiction from: ‘N. Manders: The butterflies of Mauritius and Bourbon. Transactions of the Entomological Society of London 429-454. 1907’

(public domain)

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edited: 23.04.2022

Centrobunus braueri Loman

Brauer’s Spiky Harvestman (Centrobunus braueri)  

This species from the island of Mahé, Seychelles was discovered in 1894 (described in 1902), it was never recorded again, and thus is considered most probably extinct.  

The genus contains only this one species.  

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ocularium (on the left) and right palpus (on the right)  

Depiction from ‘J. C. C. Loman: Neue aussereuropäische Opilioniden. Zoologische Jahrbücher. Abteilung für Systematik, Geographie und Biologie der Tiere 16: 163-216. 1902’  

(not in copyright)

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edited: 26.11.2018

Vernonia sechellensis Baker

Seychelles Vernonia (Vernonia sechellensis)

The Seychelles Vernonia was endemic to the island of Mahé, Seychelles Islands, it is known only from the holotype, which had been collected in 1874 in the so called Forêt Noire, an area that appears to have been largely deforested since then.

The Seychelles Vernonia was a very small shrub, reaching only about 1,2 m in height.

The species was never found since 1874 and is clearly extinct.

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References:

[1] Justin Gerlach: Red List ing reveals the true state of biodiversity: a comprehensive assessment of Seychelles biodiversity. Phesluma 20: 9-22. 2012

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edited: 26.11.2018

Centropus toulou ssp. assumptionis Nicoll

Assumption Coucal (Centropus toulou ssp. assumptionis)  

The Malagasy Coucal (Centropus toulou (Müller)) occurs all over Madagascar, while two additional subspecies are known to inhabit some of the islands of the so-called Aldabra group of the Seychelles Islands, the Aldabra atoll and Assumption Island.

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The subspecies that once inhabited the small islet of Assumption was originally described in 1906 as a full species. The discoverer of that form, M. J. Nicholl, noted in 1908 in his book ‘Three Voyages of a Naturalist, being an account of many little-known islands in three oceans visited by the “Valhalla,” R.Y.S.’:  

We had not proceeded far before we heard the long bubbling note of a lark-heeled cuckoo, and soon found the bird sitting in a thick bush near its nest – a large domed structure built of dried grasses, and containing two perfectly white eggs. This “cuckoo”, which is, by the way, not a true cuckoo, builds its own nests and rears its own young. The Assumption species is closely allied to the one I have mentioned as seen in the Forêt d’Ambre [Madagascar], but is somewhat larger. Although they were extraordinary tame, we were unable to catch any of them alive, as they rarely left the thickest parts of the bushes.” [1]

***

The island was already overrun by rats at this point, trees and bushes were felled for building houses and as firewood, and finally guano was quarried on the island, which led to the almost complete destruction of the native vegetation – and thus to the extinction of the local wildlife populations.

This was apparently also the last time when the Assumption Coucal was seen.

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References:  

[1] M. J. Nicoll: Three Voyages of a Naturalist, being an account of many little-known islands in three oceans visited by the “Valhalla,” R.Y.S.. London: Witherby & Co. 1908  

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Malagasy Coucal (Centropus toulou (Müller)); nominate form

Depiction from: ‘Alfred Grandidier: Histoire Physique, Naturelle et Politique de Madagascar. Paris: à l’Imprimerie Nationale 1836-1921’

(public domain)

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edited: 08.10.2020

Alectroenas sp. ‘Farquhar Islands’

Farquhar Islands Blue Pigeon (Alectroenas sp.)

A population of some sort of blue pigeons, which are otherwise known from several islands and island groups within the Indian Ocean, may once have existed on the Farquhar Islands, a group of three smaller atolls that belong to the outer islands of the Seychelles; this can be taken from an old account.:

Jean de Nova i. e. Farquhar and Providence … like the Amirates, Coetivy and Alphonse are the resort of Millions of Birds of which, the Frigate Bird, the Fou, a beautiful small white gull, a variety of various coloured Gannet, and the Tropic Bird are the principle: In S. Pierre and Providence a species of small blue pigeon are in great abundance, and so seldom disturbed that they do not fly at man’s approach, but are knock’d down with Sticks, we found them excessively good eating, these birds build and nest on the Mapou tree and other Dwarf trees which cover the surface of the islands …” [1]

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These birds may have been identical to the Seychelles Blue Pigeon (Alectroenas pulcherrimus (Scopoli)) (see photo), or, probably more likely, might have represented a distinct taxon.

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References:

[1] D. R. Stoddart; C. W. Benson: An old record of a blue pigeon Alectroenas species and sea-birds on Farquhar and Providence. Atoll Research Bulletin 136: 35-36. 1970

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Seychelles Blue Pigeon (Alectroenas pulcherrimus)

Photo: Adrian Scottow

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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edited: 10.08.2022