Thanks to one man's dedication and love, the beauty and wonder of an island in the Seychelles will be around for years to come, the Daily Mail reports.
According to the Daily Mail, Brendon Grimshaw bought Moyenne Island, off the north coast of Mahe, Seychelles, in the early 1960s for £8,000. At the time, he was a successful newspaper editor in Africa who was itching to start a new life.
It took nine years for him to take the jump but finally, in 1973, the journalist from Dewsbury, England, moved to his new island with nothing but a dream. Grimshaw has lived there ever since.
When he first arrived at Moyenne, the island -- abandoned for over 50 years -- was overgrown with shrubbery so dense that coconuts could not fall to the ground.
Together with a Seychellois named Rene Lafortune, Grimshaw tirelessly worked to transform the island.
Over the last 39 years, Grimshaw, now 86, and Lafortune planted 16,000 trees by hand -- including 700 mahogany trees that have grown to reach 60-70 feet in height -- and have built 4.8 kilometers of nature paths, Radio Times reports.
Lafortune died in 2007, leaving Grimshaw to care for the island alone. According to Joseph Johnson Cami, director of a documentary about Grimshaw called 'A Grain of Sand,' while Lafortune occasionally lived on the island when the two were working on it, Grimshaw has been the only permanent inhabitant of Moyenne and has virtually been living alone for four decades.
According to the film, (which was born out of a 1996 autobiography of the same name), the nature lover has also attracted about 2,000 new birds to the island which he helps care for.
He is also the loving caretaker of 120 giant tortoises.
Almost hunted to total extinction in the early 1900s, the giant tortoise -- though indigenous to the Seychelles -- continues to be at risk on most of the other islands, the Daily Mail reports.
Grimshaw's island now also holds more than two thirds of all endemic plants to the Seychelles.
"The island gradually taught you what to do...It knows itself what it wants to do," Grimshaw says.
“Brendon is the modern Robinson Crusoe,” Joel Morgan, Seychelles' Minister of Home Affairs, Environment, Transport and Energy, told the Financial Times in 2008. “He’s a naturalist, he’s a conservationist, and he’s a damned hard worker.”
According to a press release for the documentary, Grimshaw was offered $50 million for the island a few years ago -- but he refused, saying that he did not want the island to become a holiday destination for millionaires, but rather a national park for everyone to enjoy.
Finally, in June 2008, after years of struggle to protect his island from privatization, Grimshaw's Moyenne Island was declared a National Park in Seychelles.
For more on Brendon Grimshaw, watch an upcoming episode of BBC's Indian Ocean, in which Simon Reeve will visit the Seychelles and Grimshaw's island.
Clarification: This article has been updated to include further information about the circumstances in which Grimshaw lived alone on the island as well as the date on which he bought it. A line about his exact age at the time of buying the island has been removed since the age reported by external news sources appears to be inaccurate.