India-Seychelles Current Affairs - 2020

Aldabra Giant Tortoise: Seychelles gifts two giant tortoise to India

Seychelles has gifted pair of Giant Aldabra tortoise to India as a goodwill gesture. They were brought to India as gift from the President of Seychelles Danny Faure during his five-day visit to India. The pair was handed over to Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad after Central Zoo Authority (CZA) in New Delhi gave permission to house them.

The tortoises are both aged about 20 years and weighs around 120 and 150kg. They have been kept under quarantine at Nehru Zoological Park and will continue to be under observation for 30 days, after which they will be released into  enclosure for public view, where presently Galapagos tortoise is also housed.

Gifting or giving Aldabra tortoise on loan to friendly countries is a part of the Seychellois diplomacy. Earlier, in 2010, Seychelles had loaned two giant tortoise to Shanghai Zoo in China, while another pair was presented to Guangzhou Zoo in 2014.

Aldabra Giant Tortoise

Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea) is endemic to Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles. It is said to be one of the largest species of tortoises on planet and also one of the world’s longest living animals (can live above 200 years). kg Aldabra Atoll has been protected from human influence and is home to around 100,000 giant tortoises, the world’s largest population of the animal. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified this species of tortoises as Vulnerable in its Red List of Threatened Species.

Assumption Island: Seychelles denies joint project with India to develop naval base

Seychelles President Danny Faure ahead of his state visit to India has said that India-Seychelles joint project to develop naval base at Assumption Island in his country will not move forward. He also mentioned that Seychelles will develop military facilities at the island on its own. This statement comes after growing political opposition in Seychelles to agreement that was signed with India in 2015 to develop a naval facility at Assumption Island which would have given India strategic advantage in Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Background

India was keen on developing the Assumption Island as naval base due to key strategic location in the western periphery of Indian Ocean and to expand its footprint in the region where China has been trying to enhance its military presence. For this, India had signed 20 years agreement in 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to that Seychelles. It was meant to India’s first Naval Base project overseas and had acquired significance after China had acquired its first African naval base in Djibouti (near Horn of Africa) in November 2014. However, after opposition leaders in Seychelles came out openly against agreement with India, Seychelles President refused to place in Seychelles National Assembly (its parliament) since he didn’t have majority. Later in January 2018, India and Seychelles finalised an updated version of the original pact to accommodate lot of concerns of Seychelles side.

Assumption Island

Assumption Island is a small island situated southwest of Seychelles main and largest island of Mahe. It is situated very close to Mozambique Channel from where much Indian Ocean maritime routes pass. Its location lends it strategic importance for monitoring shipping in the Mozambique Channel.