We live in a world where we are constantly reminded of man’s impact on the environment. Even in the face of a rising awareness, efforts for conservation often seem like they come too little, too late; which is why it is always inspiring to hear a true conservational success story.
Cousine Island: A natural success story
Picture a scene of a tiny granitic island complete with powdery beaches, lush green vegetation and an assortment of exotic and endangered birds, animals, marine life and plants that are rarely seen anywhere else in the world. Giant and majestic hawksbill turtles glide to the ocean’s surface at sunset, schools of exotic fish flash colours and play amongst coral reefs; melodious bird songs flow through the warm tropical air in a vast choir of life. Cousine Island is practically teeming with life, but if one were to go back just a few decades, this paradisiac slice of heaven was all but plundered of its natural resources, its vibrant array of life stamped out and ravaged.
But things changed in 1991 when the island was purchased by Cousine Island Company Limited, with the express purpose of rehabilitating the island. Extensive efforts to reintroduce the previously endangered species of endemic animals, birds and plants to the island in an environment where they could thrive, uninhibited by the destructive actions of man.
Funds raised by having guests stay in one of the island’s luxury villas have since been injected into the island’s rehabilitation schemes, allowing for the reintroduction and protection of these animals, yet it is the return of those sorely missed species such as the hawksbill turtles and green turtles to the island’s shores which mark the success of this conservation story.
Having once been all but pushed out of the island from overharvesting of flesh, shells and eggs, the return of these animals marks the achievements of Cousine’s conservation. Tropical fish which were all but gleaned in the past by overfishing, as well as the return of marine birds to their nesting grounds after decades of spoilage, give off the illusion that Cousine Island is and always was unspoiled. Yet it is only from the considerable efforts of the island’s resort staff that this became popular.