The magnificent Cousine Island journey gives guests an opportunity to learn more about the island’s native vegetation and wildlife. You can take part in our conservation programmes by planting trees and tracking endangered species of animals and birds, or releasing baby Hawksbill and Green turtle hatchlings. This truly is a rare and enchanting experience that is certain to move and inspire you to your very core while making you feel a deeper connection with Mother Nature. Those who do not wish to get involved directly in the island’s initiatives, still support our programmes by simply staying and enjoying her and hospitality.
Our conservation work currently focuses on five main areas:
Seven species of seabird breed annually on Cousine; white-tailed tropicbirds and fairy terns nest year-round, while large numbers of lesser noddies, brown noddies, sooty terns, wedge-tailed shearwaters and tropical shearwaters arrive during the seabird nesting season from May to September. We carry out censuses to monitor their numbers, and also monitor colonies and individual nests to determine how successfully they are breeding.
Cousine is home to many species of endemic land bird, including the Seychelles Fody, Seychelles Warbler, Seychelles Blue Pigeon, Seychelles Sunbird and the very charismatic Seychelles Magpie Robin. This last species was critically endangered in the 1990s, with only 20 individuals left on one island in the Seychelles. In an attempt to save them from extinction, a translocation was carried out of birds from Fregate Island to five other islands, including Cousine. Each individual is given a unique set of colour rings to allow us to identify them; this way we keep a close eye on how our population of around 40 individuals is doing.
Two species of sea turtle nest on Cousine. The first, the Green turtle, nests year-round but is rare and emerges only at night. The second, the Hawksbill turtle, has a distinct nesting season from September to April; in the 2016-2017 nesting season there were 165 nests laid with a total of 25,202 eggs. The Hawksbill turtle emerges during the day, so the conservation team are able to encounter most of the females, to gather important data such as tag numbers and shell measurements. We also monitor each nest that’s laid, and following emergence of the hatchlings, excavate each nest to determine how successful it was.
Cousine is home to 80 Aldabra Giant tortoises. Many of these tortoises were brought over from Praslin, where they were being kept as pets by local people; some of them came from a breeding programme on Silhouette Island. All our tortoises have been given an internal tag to allow us to identify them, and they are also all named! Every year, we do a census and collect data on their health and growth rates.
Monitoring of four sites around the island is carried out during the transition of the biannual monsoons (March-May and September-November). The program centres on several key areas of study including, the benthic community, coral and fish populations and the overall resilience of the reef to large-scale disturbances. Environmental factors such as sea temperature and sediment accumulation rates are also monitored as both have an impact on the coral community. So far, 34 species of coral and 180 species of fish have been observed around the island, and these communities are monitored over time to help determine if any further conservation management is required.