School environmental representatives – teachers who are the focal points for environment in schools – from Mahe, Praslin, La Digue and Silhouette took part recently in a half-day visit to Cousin island, a world-famous bird reserve.For most of the teachers present it was their first visit to Cousin, or to any of the neighbouring reserves. On arrival, they were given a brief introduction to the history of island, from the time it was bought as a coconut plantation to what it is today, a well-restored sanctuary for birds and other rare species.
Divided into groups, the teachers were taken on a guided tour where they learned about the island’s biodiversity and had a chance to see a number of species, especially birds, in their natural habitat.
Seeing such a large population of birds and how they interact with other species in the natural cycle was for many of the teachers to experience what they are teaching in their science and geography classes.
They also learned about how the island gets its water and how the small group of staff living there try to conserve water. As there is no river or stream, water is pumped from underground, stored, filtered and distributed. Though the number of people living on the island is very small, water conservation practices are still an important issue.
The visit also formed part of a project schools are carrying out on rainwater harvesting, where they are trying to learn different ways of getting and conserving water, especially now with the global threat of climate change .
The Ministry of Education would like to thank Nature Seychelles and the Cousin island staff for their support in organising this trip.
Those who took part felt the island is an ideal place to be used as an outdoor classroom, to promote science and conservation education. Some teachers are now planning to seek funding to organise visits for their students to Cousin.
Contributed by the Environmental Education Unit, Department of Education