The site is the northernmost island of the Amirantes group and lies c.220 km west of Mahé; it includes 720 ha of coastal marine habitat. It formerly comprised two islands but, by 1976, South Island had eroded, leaving a small sandstone ridge exposed only at low tide. The remaining land area, North Island, is a small, flat sandstone island (30 ha), with no human settlement. There is a derelict automatic lighthouse. It is frequently visited by poachers and there is considerable exploitation and disturbance of nesting birds. Tourists occasionally visit by charter yachts. The island is almost treeless (one coconut tree in 1995), being otherwise covered in grass and low-growing vegetation.
See Box for key species. The colony of Sterna fuscata was once much larger; in 1955 it was estimated at 40,300 pairs and in 1974 at 20,300 pairs. The site holds one of only three colonies of Sterna dougallii in Seychelles, with 82 pairs. Other species include Sterna bergii (six pairs in 1974, possibly no longer breeds).
Non-bird biodiversity: The turtles Chelonia mydas (EN) and Eretmochelys imbricata (CR) nest and may be taken by poachers.
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: African Banks. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/05/2019.