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Cousin Island Special Reserve, Seychelles
My time on cousin

Picture this little bird, chirping, alone in the forest of an island lost in the Indian Ocean calling for his partner, but no one answers. He is unique and lives in this very special place and nowhere else in the entire world.

Today our little bird is no longer alone. The island has been brought back to be just the perfect forest it needs to live and grow. Many other sea birds live on this island making it a true attraction. Scientists from all over the world come and spend some time making the island even better and learning and studying its very special environment. Tourists visit daily, paying a fee to help to sustain the island and taking with them in return, an unforgettable experience. The people of the surrounding island can support their family with the tourism activity that it brings.

I have a vision of a paradise where the natural environment is restored, preserved and in turn celebrated. Being a Seychellois from Praslin, I have had the opportunity to visit Cousin Island Special Reserve on several occasions; however simply visiting this truly protected piece of paradise was not enough. I wanted to be part of the conservation work and experience nature in its pristine form and therefore, I became a volunteer.

My aim was to broaden my awareness of conservation as a whole with the intention of exploring ways of restoring and protecting further the natural environment of Praslin.

Cousin Island Special Reserve is unquestionably extremely important to Seychelles and to the world. As a reserve, the island is strictly managed by Nature Seychelles for conservation. There is limited human access, which allows for continuous study and research on the existing species and their protection.

Although short, my time on Cousin has widened my perspectives on conservation and the dedication it takes to preserve an island in its original form. I have had the chance to engage in the monitoring of the Seychelles Magpie Robin, which is one of the world’s rarest bird species saved from extinction, by Nature Seychelles, BirdLife partner in the country.

As a Dive Instructor by profession, what truly inspired me was the ongoing work on re-growing the coral reefs around Cousin. I still remember as a young girl snorkeling around the reefs with my parents and swimming in a true coral garden. However, human impact, the warming of the Indian Ocean in 1997 through El Nino, and the further devastation the tsunami brought in 2004 as well as global warming, a great amount of our reefs continue to suffer serious damage.

Today, a team from Nature Seychelles researchers are creating nurseries for corals, and later carefully, replanted one by one of these young corals, so that they cannot get washed away and can grow. The results are already amazing. This is a preservation project I would like to see happening on all the corals around our islands. The idea that is possible to help the fragile and slow process of growing corals in this way, and seeing how successful it is truly makes me want to be part of this effort and help in any way I can to achieve it. My time as a volunteer with Nature Seychelles will be one that I will never forget.

Juliette Vidot
Praslin Resident