Seychelles is famous with international tourists for its beautiful environment and this archipelago of 115 islands truly lives up to its name 'paradise' with its stunning views. Cousin Island Special Reserve is one of the islands that receives numerous visitors each year. Cousin however is an island protected under seychelles law. The terrestrial environment as well as the 400 meters surrounding the island is a no-take zone, thereby prohibiting the removal of any plant or animal species.
Cousin Island Special Reserve is a world renowned Marine Protected Area (MPA) managed by Nature Seychelles, the BirdLife partner in Seychelles. Cousin Island was once a coconut plantation but now the ecosystem is thriving after years of restoration work.
Tourists visit Cousin hoping to experience an unforgettable encounter with nature. Because of conservation efforts over the years, there are numerous bird species flying or perched all over the island, skinks and giant aldabra tortoises roaming freely on the island and when it is turtle nesting season, there is a likelihood to see a turtle arriving, digging a nest, laying eggs returning to the see or just the tracks as evidence of the turtle's visit.
Unless special arrangements are made beforehand, tourists are able to visit the island between ten in the morning and noon for a guided island tour by one of the wardens. The staff and volunteers give tourists a brief history of the island and point out various wildlife. Tourists are taken off their boats and onto the Cousin Island's boat which is specifically built to have minimal disturbance to the marine life and for beaching onto the island.
Thr tourist fees charged are used to pay the Cousin staff and for other costs that ensure the conservation work continues to be managed successfully.
NATURE SEYCHELLES ECOTOURISM ACTIONS:
Cousin Island Special Reserve
Nature Seychelles manages the ecotourism program on Cousin Island Special Reserve which BirdLife International started in 1972 (the longest running ecotourism program in Seychelles) www.cousinisland.net. Nature Seychelles continues to:
1. Adhere to current best practice for ecotourism and visitor management
2. Train its Wardens in nature interpretation and guest relations
3. Liaise with tourism destination management companies to ensure smooth operations
4. Use ecotourism revenues solely for conservation and as a sustainable financing mechanism
5. Maintain and improve facilities and infrastructure to do with eco-tourism, eg. Visitor shelters, signage, mooring buoys
6. Train its wardens in boat handling, health and safety, firefighting, and first aid
7. Monitor key biodiversity to follow trends and impacts if any of visitations.
8. Maintain strict guidelines for access and entry to the Special Reserve
9. Market the Special Reserve as a wilderness area with priority given to conservation over all activities
10. Maintain the Special Reserve as the world’s first Carbon Neutral protected area in the world.
The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman (SARC)
Nature Seychelles upkeeps this sanctuary as the only managed urban wetland in Seychelles . It is situated on Mahe island.
1. Manage the SARC as a Park for People
2. Maintain facilities such as the boardwalk, Bird Hide, and toilets for visitors
3. Control access
4. Maintain and monitor biodiversity populations.
5. Source funding for implementation of projects
1. Work with island hotel/resort managers to restore ecosystems and biodiversity
2. Support hotel/resort management with technical and scientific environmental expertise
3. Maintain good relations at the highest levels in the Ministry of Tourism
4. Participate whenever possible in relevant activities organized by the Ministry
5. Provide free access to select journalists /film makers through Seychelles Tourism Board (STB)
6. Provide information and data to the Ministry and to STB
7. Seek funding for eco- tourism related projects