13
December
2016

My grandest conservation adventure

A report from Nature Seychelles' International Volunteer Program

jlp Hanging out with one of the resident Giant Aldabra Tortoises on Cousin

Coming to Cousin Island Special Reserve to volunteer with Nature Seychelles has been by far the grandest of my adventures in life so far. I’ve done voluntary work in conservation before but nothing in such an environment or so far from my home in the UK.

Living on an island in the Seychelles, as grandiose as it sounds, is full of challenges. Not only is the overbearing sun a test to us volunteers as we’re mostly from cooler climates; but the wardens who we all befriend during our trip often comment on battling with the heat some days.

My stay on Cousin was during the height of the turtle season so turtle patrols were our top priority among our other responsibilities on the island. The turtles don’t care what time it is so our days start near dawn and finish after sundown. Walking on sandy beaches all day also takes its toll as it’s not the easiest on your legs and particularly unforgiving on injuries which I learnt first-hand.

The worst day-to-day ‘enemy’ of all visitors to the island; people and turtles alike, is the mosquitos. They need little explanation but with the amount of rain during my stay despite being a blessing for our water supply, was also the catalyst in them being all the more prominent.

Nonetheless, with the challenges brought by the island, time allows you to acclimatise just fine and the rewards infinitely outweigh any struggle you might face. During my stay I’ve seen more species of tropical fish and birds than I dare to count and I have also done extensive fieldwork in a setting most only dream of.

My favourites of all the creatures I met were the Giant Tortoises and Ghost Crabs as they had something charismatic about them that always proved entertaining. The time I had to myself was healing in a plethora of ways and the more time I spent working to understand the island and it’s wildlife, the more I felt I understood it in a magical way.

It’s not easy to describe in words what such a place is like so I made a film! (WATCH VIDEO)

by James Lees

Categories: Living on a nature reserve, Conservation, Volunteering