His tombstone reads, 'Moyenne taught him to open his eyes to the beauty around him and say thank you to God.'
Editor's note: This article was originally published on January 22, 2023. It has since been updated.
Have you ever dreamt of living on an island surrounded by nature and natural beauty? A man named Brendon Grimshaw started living this life in 1962. He was originally from the UK but was working in Kenya as a newspaper editor. Tanzania had gained independence and Kenya was next. Grimshaw knew that his job would be given to a local and he should figure out what to do next. One thing he was sure about was that he wanted to live close to nature and own land in Seychelles.
Soon, he left for a holiday to Seychelles to find land that he could own. After a few days, he realized that most of the islands were expensive. Luckily, just before leaving for home, he met a man on the street who asked him if he wanted to buy an island. That same day, they visited Moyenne Island. Grimshaw felt that the island was totally different. “It was a special feeling. This is the place I’d been looking for,” he reported to the Explorersweb.
He bought the island for $10,000 not knowing what was awaiting him next. The rainforest on the island was dense and it was impossible to walk across. The weeds had killed the native plants and rats were the only wildlife in the place. So, Grimshaw hired a local man, Rene Lafortune to help him with the tasks. They planted trees like palm, mango, and paw-paw after clearing the scrub. They saved the rainwater and pumped it up the hillside by hand or came back to the main island to collect fresh water, according to The Kids Should See This. The island was lacking in fauna. So, he brought 10 birds from a neighboring village but they flew back. He repeated it and a few birds came back. They began to feed them. Then more birds began to settle on the island. Today, they have more than 16,000 trees and 2000 birds living on Moyenne Island.
That's not all. He also went on to bring one more animal to the island - the giant Aldabra tortoise. This species is said to be native to Seychelles but has become extinct in many islands. He took care of them and started a breeding program. Now, the island has about 50 tortoises. He permanently moved to the island in 1972. He then set up a water supply, electricity, and a phone line on the island. Many thought he might turn the island into a resort but he wanted to build a nature reserve. It is said that a Saudi prince offered him $50 million for the island but he turned down the offer.
He was not always alone on the island. He invited his father to live with him after his mother's death and he did. According to Grimshaw, "They became best of friends." His father passed away 5 years later. However, Lafortune also used to live on the island and they allowed people to visit the island during the day for a small fee. In 2007 when Lafortune also passed away. Grimshaw, who was 81, knew that he had little time left to decide the fate of the island. He set up a trust and signed an agreement with Seychelles’ Ministry of Environment. It became Moyenne Island National Park, known as the world's smallest national park.
Grimshaw died in 2012 when he was 86 and was buried next to his father on the island. His tombstone reads, “Moyenne taught him to open his eyes to the beauty around him and say thank you to God.”
Moyenne Island is a small island in the Sainte Anne Marine National Park off the north coast of Mahé, Seychelles. Since the 1970s onwards, it has been a flora and fauna reserve. From 1915 until the 1960s, the island was abandoned until its purchase by Brendon Grimshaw for £8,000 pic.twitter.com/PwzHmWaOtn— @projectourworld (@projectourworld) August 5, 2022
According to BBC, the island has a restaurant called Jolly Roger which serves local dishes, a small museum on Grimshaw's life, and two nurseries for giant tortoise hatchlings. The island still has no jetty and has close to 50 visitors on the island at a time. It has been more than 10 years since Grimshaw's death but the island is just the way he left it - undeveloped and brimming with nature's diversity.