Kantilal Jivan, or Kanti as he is better known, father of Nature Seychelles Dr. Nirmal Jivan Shah, passed away suddenly at Victoria Hospital, Mahe, Seychelles on Thursday, October 21, 2010. As a Seychellois of Indian origin, he went beyond his career as a successful businessman, protecting the natural heritage of the Seychelles and influenced many people both in Seychelles and overseas.
Kanti was the first Seychellois to have received the Seychelles National Tourism Trophy and served as the Chair of the Seychelles Small Hotels and Guesthouse Association for many years He has been featured in more than two hundred magazine and newspaper articles, TV interviews and films. He starred with Omar Shariff in the film “Return to Eden” and was included by Ian Fleming as a character in a story in the James Bond novel “For Your Eyes Only.” He wrote many articles about the Seychelles and was a prolific international speaker.
Kanti was a pioneer in the creation of national parks and protection of species in Seychelles. He is a winner of numerous awards notably the United Nations Environmental Program Global 500 Award for environmental achievement, for his work in setting up national and marine parks in Seychelles, in protecting turtles and seabirds, and in banning spear guns. Other awards include the Silver Medal of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Letters of Norway and the Rajiv Gandhi Lifetime Achievement Award. Several new species of Seychelles flora and fauna were named after him. He was part of the campaign to prevent a military base form being built on Aldabra and in the set up of the Indian Ocean Alliance, which led to the Indian Ocean to become a whale sanctuary. He persuaded the family who owned Cousin Island to sell it to Birdlife International to save the Seychelles Warbler. He organized scientific expeditions to Seychelles earning the title of Scientific Collaborator of the Free University of Belgium and was the Seychelles Representative for the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP) for many years. His personal campaign to members of Parliament in the UK saved the Port Launay wetland from being developed into a golf course. He was the chairperson of the National Regional Seas Committee, a regional process which led to the creation of the Nairobi Convention.
Kanti served as founding member, trustee, or chairperson on more than 200 committees and organizations such as the Seychelles Islands Foundation, Seychelles Tourism Board, Seychelles Town and Country Planning Commission, Seychelles Conservation and National Parks Committee, Seychelles National Environment Commission, Seychelles National Research and Development Council, the local boards of Cousin and Aride islands and the Seychelles Environment Trust Fund. He served as the vice chair of the Victoria District Council. Involved in the designs of coins, stamps, and paper money of Seychelles, Kantis photographs were made into the first definitive set of postage stamps for Seychelles. Considered a true renaissance man with an eye on the environment, Kanti will be greatly missed as a role model and man of action.