86-year-old lives alone on island he bought in 1962

[Video Link] Brendon Grimshaw lives alone (with some giant turtles) on the island of Moyenne in the Indian Ocean. The spry gent reminds me of Tom Neale, who wrote a book I love called an Island to Oneself.

Brendon Grimshaw purchased the island for £8,000 in 1962 and set about making the island habitable. He did this with the help of one other man, Rene Antoine Lafortune….

Grimshaw and his friend planted sixteen-thousand trees, built 4.8 kilometers of nature paths, and brought and bred giant land tortoises, creating an island of incredible beauty now worth 34 million Euros. Apart from a wide variety of plant and bird life, the island is home to over 100 land tortoises….

After 20 years of persistence, Grimshaw and his assistant achieved their goal of making Moyenne Island a National Park in its own right, separate to that of the St. Anne marine park. Now known as the Moyenne Island National Park, it is the smallest national park in the world, harbouring more species per square foot than any other part of the world.

86-year-old lives alone on his island reintroducing indigenous giant tortoises


  1. Turtles? Turtles?! Mark, they’re tortoises! If those tortoises heard you call them turtles they’d chase you down and… and… Oh, wait. Maybe they wouldn’t.

    1. tortoises are land dwelling turtles. it’s perfectly fine to call them that. i’ve owned a few of the little buggers for many years.

      1. Thanks for that clarification. I never really grasped the difference. In Dutch they both use the same word “schildpad”, and the land/sea distinction is made by prefixing “land” or “zee”.

    1. 34 million euro.  But Greek Isles can be had for far less, and you can find em in remote spots out in western USA for even cheaper, and in Siberia: CHEAPER STILL.

      1. I wouldn’t mind a Greek Isle myself, do you think they have any around the UK?

    2. An island paradise? That’ll be pricey. A cold desolate rock on the other hand could probably be picked up for very little.

    3. If he paid £8,000 in 1962, that’s the equivalent of about $12,800 in 1962 dollars, which is roughly the equivalent of $95,000 in 2012 dollars. While that says nothing about the changing value of the land since then, it shows you relatively what it cost him at the time.

  2. Dude looks and acts like he’s in his late 60’s, early 70’s.  It’s an island of youth.  There’s something to be said for hard work with relaxation.   8-8-8…  work, play, sleep

    1. Or….or….all those ‘tortoises’ are really young people whose life force he’s sucked out.

    2. 8-8-8 i like that. i know i’m giving 8 hours work and getting 8 hours sleep. somehow i’m lacking in the 8 hours play. 3 hours of commuting probably has a lot to say for that.

      interesting… so basically i need to cut down on commuting and get a job nearer to home to improve my quality of life. right! this is now my goal.

      thanks for clarifying my life awjt! :)

      1. I’ve never lived more than a couple of miles from my job. For much of that time, I walked, which meant that I had a longer commute, but it was either through Golden Gate Park or over Corona Heights. Now I work about two feet from my bed. I can’t imagine long commutes, but half of my co-workers spent two to five hour a day commuting from the ex-ex-urbs one or two counties away.

        1. I’m in total agreement.  Work is about 30 mins away, but it’s programming and analysis.  So I can do it anywhere, anytime; it’s just faster in the office.  When I had a 1 hour commute, talk about misery.  I like ‘books on tape’ and music, but it can only take you so far…  If I had a 3 hour commute, I would deffo be looking for a way to get that off my schedule!

          1. for me it’s 1.5 hours each way door to door. but that’s still a 3 hour chunk of my play time. the issue with the 8-8-8 rule is your 8 hours of work in uncompromising. it’s the the play and sleep that are compromised. the only way to truly stick to it is to work from home or at least very close to home. it’s something i’ve always aspired to but this has clarified it for me.

  3. Gotta admire the guy for not selling out. He’s totally right though, someone would just want to stick a hotel there if they bought the island. 

    1. What would you need $34 million for when you’re 86 and you’ve got an island like that?

  4. I like that he bought an island and turned it into something that the government was willing to make it into a park.  Hell with preserving nature, we can build our own better.  

  5. I’d send someone to investigate.  If I’ve learned anything from the movies is that private islands are used for secret bases to take over the world.

    1. I know.  I wanted to know some details about that.  Are we talking like 3 footers here by hand?  Machine, what?  Some type of seed?

      Johnny Appleseed would be all kinds of jelly, apple that is.

      1. If you don’t have deer or other sapling eaters, you could probably plant three-inch sprouts.

  6. I hope he’s made plans for when he … ‘moves on’. Those asshole developers are going to be all over that once he’s nolonger around to tell them where to stick it.

    1.  It’s a National Park now. Surely that at least will keep people from building hotels on it?

  7. I love the feeling that in a few places around the earth, there are a number of awesome octogenarians with impeccable British accents being delightfully crazy.

    1.  I don’t know about awesome or delightful, but I’ve got papers to prove I am 1) octogenarian, 2) crazy, at least briefly, and 3) sort of British (Canadian). But I tend to believe whichever Mitford girl it was who owned an island and said, “Only a person who has never lived on an island would want to.”

  8. This story is a lesson of the internet.

    If you use the Google time search feature to *exclude* the last month, which gets you several hundred copypastas of this exact story, the scattered history is much clearer:

    He had not lived there alone, he is almost *literally* Robinson Crusoe, with LaFortune as his boy Friday, and something happened to him in the last 2 years. Left? Died? Who knows? In any case, now he’s lonely.

    In the early 2000s, he wrote a book, that a Canadian filmmaker turned into a documentary in 2009.

    In 2008, he got annoyed that the neighbouring island in the maritime national park, which had housed a prison for most of his time there, was suddenly having a hotel built on it. This being 2008, his getting a declaration of his island as a separate national park (sort of) was secondary to the real estate collapse and the only evidence left of the hotel was the foundation. I think he was worried about traffic and loss of revenue and company.

    Because he was running a mini-resort of his own. He only allowed day visitors, charged them a dozen euros just to walk in, and then served them overpriced food and drink.

    By all accounts a pleasant character, but I wonder what his current goal is?

    1. €12 to visit anything/where is a reasonable deal and virtually all touristy places have overpriced food (especially when they are on some tiny little island somewhere).  

      I’d happily pay it, assuming I could afford the costs of getting to the physical point where I was allowed to pay.

  9. That is quite the achievement, not to mention dedication. Most would likely be hard pressed to do something as meaningful in their lifetime.

    Did the video (can’t watch) mention when in his life he bought the island?

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