By Anurag Vajpeyi
Giant tortoises were found on all islands in the western Indian Ocean until Mauritius was colonised in the 1600s and an increasing number of settlers and explorers visited the Seychelles islands removing and killing tortoises. It was thought that all Seychelles tortoises became extinct around 120 years ago, with the exception of the Aldabran species, until reports of oddly-shaped captive tortoises prompted a re-examination of their identity. In 1998, staff at Bristol Zoo Gardens were excited to find out that their giant tortoise may be one of these individuals in question. After examination, the experts suspected that this tortoise was a Dipsochelys hololissa, of which there may be fewer than 40 individuals left in the world. Experts are still debating. The Nature Protection Trust of the Seychelles has set up a breeding programme to ensure the survival of this rediscovered species.India and Mauritius released stamps on giant tortoises in 2008.