As you step off the boat onto Cousin Island, you know you are about to get a taste of paradise as your senses start to appreciate the sights, sounds and smells of this protected nature reserve. Numerous birds painted in the skies above, fluttering and singing as if to welcome the many visitors to the island and some perched on trees as if poised for a photoshoot. Lizards scurry into the forest undergrowth or behind fallen leaves, while the resident Giant Aldabra tortoises expectantly wait for a stroke on their uneven but enthralling faces.
Cousin Island Special Reserve offers visitors a magical interaction with nature. As you walk through the charming forest, you will no doubt have a chance to observe the stunning Seychelles Magpie Robin, with its’ striking black and white plumage, as it forages on the forest floor unflinching as you stand gazing at it for several minutes, even as you click away on your camera for the best shot.
White terns with their pure white plumage and navy blue beaks delicately hanging onto branches, sometimes with their fluffy grey chicks beside them, are picture-perfect with the vibrant vegetation backdrop. When their wings are spread in flight, they live up to their other name, fairy terns.
The lesser noddys are anything but lesser birds; slimmer noddys with long narrow bills. The brown noddys, a larger version with their grey caps, lay their eggs on bare rocks on predator-free islands such as Cousin. Just but a few of the many birds you will spot on your Island tour.
But this was not always the case. It now seems unreal that Cousin Island was once a coconut plantation impoverished of any meaningful biodiversity, plants or animals. That is, until the warbler an endemic species to the Seychelles attracted the attention of conservationists with its beautiful song. A handful of its kind remained and were at the precipice of extinction. The island was purchased by BirdLife International, a conservation charity to save the warbler.
After years of restoration work, the Island and the waters around it are protected by law and now managed by Nature Seychelles, BirdLife International partner in Seychelles and is one of the world’s great conservation success stories. Marine life, birds and terrestrial creatures are free to flourish as nature intended. What’s more, the success of the conservation efforts allow for visitors to experience nature in its pristine state. Through eco-tourism, the continued protection of Cousin Island is ensured.
Whether on a cruise ship, family visit to Seychelles or as a couple wishing to add color to your holiday, Cousin Island offers the perfect spot to be awed by nature. At only five hundred rupees per person, the wardens will give you a tour of the island, complete with its history and detailed description of the wonderful biodiversity of the island. If you are on a group tour and wish to have an exclusive experience outside the normal hours of operation, that too can be arranged. The fees you pay are used exclusively for the management of this unique nature reserve and for conservation.
The Island is open to visitors from Monday to Friday between ten in the morning till noon.