The Savage Islands are a small Archipelago belonging to the Madeira autonomous region. They mark the southernmost point of Portugal and lay 280 kilometres south-southeast of Madeira and 165 kilometres north of the Canaries. The archipelago consists of two areas, the Northeast and the Southwest group. The Northeast group is composed of Selvagem Grande (the largest of the islands) and three surrounding islets (Sinho Islet, Palheiro do Mar and Palheiro da Terra). The island of Selvagem Pequena, Ilhéu de Fora and a number of small to tiny islets surrounding them form the Southwest Group. Typical for Macaronesian islands, the Savage Islands were formed by volcanic activity and shaped by erosion and sedimentation.
Thanks to their reputation of being pirate treasure islands, several treasure hunters have tried their luck to recover gold and other valuables, but without success…
Through history, several attempts of colonising the islands were made. After being owned privately for a long time, the Portuguese government acquired the islands in 1971 and turned them into a Nature Reserve making it the oldest Portuguese nature reserve. Today a Portuguese family inhabits the islands (known as “the guardians of the Savages”), as well as a permanent team of wardens from Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza and a maritime police force.
The marine protected area (MPA) includes all the landmasses of the islands and the surrounding waters up to a depth of 200 meters. In this MPA commercial and recreational fishing are prohibited.