86-Year-Old Man Creates Tortoise Sanctuary on His Own Private Island

The sole caretaker of Moyenne Island in the Republic of Seychelles, octogenarian Brendon Grimshaw fosters more than 100 tortoises.


old man
Brendon Grimshaw, 86, rears and fosters more than 120 endangered tortoises on a tiny island in the Indian Ocean. (Photo: Courtesy of 'A Grain of Sand')

Since 1972, Brendon Grimshaw has been the only resident of Moyenne, a small island in the Indian Ocean that he owns—well, human resident, that is. 

Grimshaw, now 86 years young, shares his one-man sanctuary with more than 100 giant tortoises, reports the International Business Times.

The gentle giants have been hunted to the brink of extinction in the Republic of Seychelles, an island-nation chain of which Moyenne is part, but on Grimshaw’s dot of land they are frequent guests at his humble cottage, even laying their eggs there.

Seychelles has declared Moyenne a national park, but developers are clamoring to get their hands on the island and build luxury hotels. “They get away with a lot by using the word “development,” Grimshaw told The Times.

According to The Times, Grimshaw has received offers of up to $50 million for the island, which he bought in 1962 for £8,000. Still, he has never really considered trading his solitary life on the island for the dubious enrichment of being a millionaire.

He lives in a single story house with a message reading "Please respect the tortoises. They are probably older than you."

Tourists are welcome to visit the island, where they can visit pirate graves, ancient ruins and go on a treasure dig, according to its tourism website. They can even have a bit to eat at the Jolly Roger Bar and Restaurant.

Tourist fees pay for the island's upkeep.

Grimshaw’s ecological efforts—in addition to the tortoises, he’s also single-handedly planted 16,000 trees on the island—is the subject of a documentary called A Grain of Sand, directed by Joseph Johnson Cami. Watch the trailer below.

Jocelyn Heaney is an English instructor, animal activist and freelance writer for L.A. Review of Books and Warner Bros. Pictures, among others. Her favorite animals are great white sharks, horses and all cats. She is currently at work on a memoir. Email Jocelyn | @JocelynHeaney