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Cousin Island Special Reserve, Seychelles
Ecotourism: From theory to practice

Studying Sustainable Tourism means learning about the importance of minimizing negative ecological, social and economic impacts to a destination. Importantly, not only should there be no negative impact on the local community, there should also be some benefits to be gained such as saving the cultural heritage and protecting natural areas.

Cousin Island is a nature reserve with one of the world’s greatest conservation success stories. Years of ecotourism on this unique island ensures its protection and conservation. To gain knowledge of conservation work on the one hand and practical environmental education of ecotourism on the other, is why I wanted to come to volunteer with Nature Seychelles on Cousin Island Special Reserve.

During my studies I figured that I wanted to focus on Ecotourism as I have always been passionate about nature and wildlife. Ecotourism is known as a form of sustainable tourism concentrating on environmental responsible travel. Visiting undisturbed natural areas and protecting them is the main goal.

By informing tourists about the sensitivity and importance of the environment during their visit to the destination, as is done on Cousin Island during guided tours, is not only promoting conservation but it can also inspire an environmentally friendly lifestyle, making them appreciate and protect nature and wildlife in their daily life.

In the past two months I have had firsthand experience in land and seabird monitoring (breeding success, bird census); turtle monitoring (nesting, excavations, turtle patrols); and natural habitat restoration. Furthermore, I was allowed to take part on the guided tours with the Cousin Island wardens – I had the opportunity to translate and explain facts about the endemic species and the success story of the special reserve to German visitors.

Besides gaining knowledge in Ecotourism I was able to experience living on a small island far away from being constantly surrounded by the fast life of a big city in Germany. I have never been so content in my life – being surrounded by nature and such wonderful characteristic.

What’s more, I met people who share my passion about nature and animals. I could not tire of talking about the different behavior of birds, turtles, tortoises, skinks or geckos that we saw during the day. After my experience on Cousin Island, I am even more certain that I am on the right career path.

By Linda Müller