Ilhas Selvagens

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Ilhas Selvagens
Selvagem Grande, largest island of the Ilhas Selvagens
Selvagem Grande, largest island of the Ilhas Selvagens
Waters Atlantic Ocean
Geographical location 30 ° 9 ′  N , 15 ° 52 ′  W Coordinates: 30 ° 9 ′  N , 15 ° 52 ′  W
Number of islands 3 (+ numerous rocky cliffs)
Main island Selvagem Grande
Total land area 2.83 km²
Residents uninhabited
Location and map of the Ilhas Selvagens
Location and map of the Ilhas Selvagens
Location of the islands between Madeira and the Canary Islands

The Ilhas Selvagens ( German  "Wilde Insel" ; formerly known as Salvages, Sebaldinen or Sebaldsinseln ) are a small uninhabited island group west of the North African Atlantic coast belonging to the Portuguese autonomous region of Madeira . They belong to the municipality ( Freguesia ) Sé of the county of Funchal .


The archipelago , which is about 280 kilometers from the island of Madeira and 165 kilometers from the Canary Islands , forms the island region of Macaronesia with these archipelagos and the Azores and Cape Verde Islands . The archipelago is therefore geographically included in Africa . Politically, it belongs to Portugal .

The archipelago consists of three larger and 18 smaller islands of volcanic origin. The archipelago is made up of two archipelagos , about 15 kilometers apart:

  • The northeast group with Selvagem Grande (2.45 km²), the largest island of the Ilhas Selvagens , and the three islets Ilhéu Sinho , Palheiro do Mar and Palheiro de Terra . The highest peak is the Pico da Atalaia on Selvagem Grande at 163 meters.
  • The southwest group with the islands of Selvagem Pequena (0.30 km²) and Fora (0.08 km²) as well as numerous, partly very small islets, such as Alto , Comprido , Redondo and the Norte Islands . The highest point is the Pico do Veado with 49 meters on Selvagem Pequena.

The archipelago is surrounded by dangerous reefs , which makes landing on some islands impossible. Only a few places can be reached directly by ship. On the somewhat larger islands there are cones of extinct volcanoes , such as the Pico da Atalaia on Selvagem Grande.

The total area of ​​all islands is 2.83 km². All islands are uninhabited due to their poor accessibility and the lack of any freshwater sources.


The first cartographic evidence for the Ilhas Selvagens comes from 1375. In 1438 they were officially discovered on behalf of the Infante Heinrich the Navigator . Diogo Gomes de Sintra , was the first to write a description of the main island of Selvagem Grande. The Treaty of Alcáçovas awarded the territory to Portugal in 1479.

In the 16th century, the islands were administered by the Caiado family living in Madeira . In 1904 the archipelago was sold to the banker Luis da Rocha Machado . The WWF became interested in the islands in 1959 and signed a pre-sale agreement with the heirs of Luis da Rocha Machado. In 1971 Portugal intervened, was able to acquire the islands and in the same year declared them a nature reserve (Reserva das Selvagens). This makes the Ilhas Selvagens one of the oldest reserves in Portugal and the first to be awarded the European diploma by the Council of Europe .

The islands were dug up several times in search of the legendary treasure of the cathedral of Lima ( Peru ). The pirate William Kidd is said to have robbed him from a Spanish ship coming from Baltimore and buried him on the islands. The famous English explorer Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton also asked permission for the treasure hunt .

Nature reserve

Selvagem Pequena coast
Yellow-billed Shearwater on Selvagem Pequena

The islands have been a nature reserve since 1971 . The islands of Selvagem Pequena and Ilhéu de Fora have a unique, intact flora because herbivores have never been introduced there. Of the 90 mapped plant species that inhabit the Selvagens, 10 are endemic . The islands also serve as a nesting site for many sea birds and are therefore also known as an “ornithological paradise”.

The islands are designated as a bird sanctuary which is looked after by two people stationed on Selvagem Grande all year round and on Selvagem Pequena from May to October , who are replaced every three weeks. In addition, they carry out scientific work such as species census and animal observation. They are supplied by the Coast Guard and the Portuguese Navy . Since 1989, the Madeira Nature Protection Agency has been responsible for monitoring and managing it.

Particularly noteworthy is the endemic insect world of the Ilhas Selvagens, which, according to morphological and molecular genetic studies, can primarily be traced back to the fauna elements of the Canary Islands, especially those of Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria .

The nature reserve of the Ilhas Selvagens was entered in the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage in 2002 . After a temporary withdrawal, Portugal proposed the area again as a World Heritage Site in a second attempt in 2017 .

See also

Web links

Commons : Ilhas Selvagens  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. salvages . In: Heinrich August Pierer , Julius Löbe (Hrsg.): Universal Lexicon of the Present and the Past . 4th edition. tape 14 . Altenburg 1862, p. 814 ( ).
  2. a b Niklas Holmström: General information. In: The Salvage Islands., accessed September 23, 2016 .
  3. European Diploma areas: Awarded Areas in Portugal. Council of Europe website , accessed 6 June 2017.
  4. Joe Sultana: Selvagens Islands Nature Reserve (Portugal). Presentation for the European Diploma for Protected Areas . Directorate of Culture and Cultural and Natural Heritage of the Council of Europe, February 2012 (PDF; 69 kB, English).
  5. Peter E. Stüben: The Coleoptera of the Salvage Islands / Os Coleópteros das Ilhas Selvagens / The Coleoptera of the Wild Islands (trilingual version) . Curculio Institute, Mönchengladbach 2016, ISBN 978-3-00-050438-9 , p. 120 .
  6. Ilhas Selvagens (Selvagens Islands). Tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage (English). ( Memento from November 1, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  7. Selvagens Islands. Tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage, accessed on June 6, 2017 (English).