Fifty years ago, Brendon Grimshaw bought the island. Today he lives in a blissful solitude in the company of 120 tortoises and converted Moyenne island into a paradise of its own.
This real-life Robinson Crusoe had bought the 0.034-square mile island in the Seychelles for £8,000 in 1962. In the middle of the Indian Ocean, where he was the only habitant, he started making the island inhabitable with the help of a local partner, Rene Antoine Lafortune. When he bought Moyenne, it was overgrown with scrub so dense that coconuts could not fall to the ground. The island was spectacular but far from being habitable. To make his dream house come true he had to harvest rainwater, buy birds from neighboring islands and plant a variety of trees like mahogany, palm, mango and paw paw. There were only four trees on Moyenne island then and today it flaunts 16000 trees, attracting thousands of birds and a huge community of giant tortoises which were being killed off on other islands.
Grimshaw lives with 120 giant tortoises that are free to roam anywhere and everywhere all the time. He paints them with identifying numbers and gives them names too. He has oldest of the lot, and the youngest too, some of which took birth right in his bedroom. The sign left on one of the trees in his vast expanse of green says “Please Respect the Tortoises. They are probably older than you”. Giant tortoises have a long life and are believed to live for more than 180 years. He claims none of his tortoises are as old as him. The island is home to not only these tortoises and trees but also a variety of birds that are nestled here.
Recently Moyenne was declared as a national park, which also makes it the smallest national park in the world. This English Newspaper editor claims only three men had ever lived on that island before he did in the early 1970s. Today he’s been offered £34 million ($54M) for the island, but he rebuffs saying, “The only reason somebody would want to buy this island is to build a big hotel”. Grimshaw and his friend not only planted trees but also built 4.8 kms of nature paths, bought and bred giant land tortoises and created a very beautiful island which nurtures more species per square foot than any other part of the world.
Grimshaw was an adventure seeker and loved traveling places. He wanted to buy a land and had checked out many islands in Seychelles. However the moment he landed in Moyenne, he knew he had found his home and started working towards it with all his heart and soul. Life in the wild wasn't that easy either. Grimshaw has survived tropical storms, sharks and many such uninvited guests in his little patch of unique reserve. The island is a live phenomenon depicting Grimshaw’s passion for nature and his consistent, tireless efforts to sustain the beauty of the island by protecting, looking after, creating and maintaining it for 50 long years. He believes that maintaining the beauty of island and taking care of it has kept him alive and has also given a meaning and purpose to his life by always having ‘something to do’ on a regular basis, the Daily Mail reported.
This man has created a paradise out of the wild; yet is humble enough to say that he has done all this just to make it “habitable” for him.