14 members of the Africa Council of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) braved soaking wet conditions to visit Cousin Island Special Reserve on the 1st of February 2018. Rain and cloud cover, typical of this time of the year, persisted throughout the morning of the visit. The conditions did not, however, dampen the spirits of both visitors and Nature Seychelles' staff on hand to receive them. Neither did it scuttle the unique island tour that Cousin is known for.
Nature Seychelles, which manages the award-winning Cousin Island Special Reserve has announced an increase in the tourism user fee to the Reserve as of June 2019 so as to try and reduce visitor numbers. Dr. Nirmal Jivan Shah the Chief Executive of Nature Seychelles explains, “Cousin Island Special Reserve experienced over-tourism in 2018. The Special Reserve received a record number of visitors last year, 27% more than the average of the last 10 years. Analysis of visitor statistics and of our management and conservation reports, shows that the coping ability of our management team and the biophysical carrying capacity of the Special Reserve are being overshot. The visitor experience is, in addition, being compromised.”
By Nirmal Shah
The torti soupap or terrapin (also known as mud turtle) is well known in Seychelles. Actually, biologists said that there were 3 species in Seychelles. One became extinct; the Seychelles terrapin Pelusios seychellensis is known from only 3 specimens collected in the 19th century and kept at the Natural History Museum in Vienna and the Zoological Museum in Hamburg. Despite recent searches for this species no further specimens have been found. "Consequently, it was assumed the species had been exterminated", says Professor Uwe Fritz, director of the Museum of Zoology at the Senckenberg Natural History Collections in Dresden.
A tiny terrapin streaks across the surface of the water leaving ripples in its wake. Within minutes the reptile disappears under the surface. Watching to see if it will re-surface are staff from Nature Seychelles and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Seychelles. They've just released the juvenile Seychelles black mud terrapin into the wetland at the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman. It is the second of the week.
Coral reefs are some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on Earth. Supporting around 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard corals and hundreds of other species. Numerous research projects are being undertaken from coral reef animals and plants as possible cures for cancer, arthritis and other diseases. The reefs provide us with coastal protection and goods and services worth $375 billion each year including the tourism industry. Not to mention they are responsible for regularly servicing our lungs providing up to 85% of the Earth’s oxygen.
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