Seychellois Conservationist wins international award

Terence Vel, a conservationist working with Nature Seychelles has won a BP Conservation Program (BPCP) Award for 2006. The award comes with a cash prize of US Dollars 25,000.00, which is to be used for a conservation project. Terence says he is thrilled with this prize which is further international recognition of the excellent work being done at Nature Seychelles.

Terence Vel talking to team in a  bat survey

The BPCP is an international scheme started in 1985  by the oil company bp with four international conservation organisations as partners.  The Program aims to contribute to long-term environmental conservation and sustainable development in priority areas by encouraging and engaging potential leaders in conservation, and providing opportunities for them to gain practical skills and experience.
In 2004, a BPCP Gold Award funded a project called Bats on the Brink’ which was a preliminary study of the sousouri banan, by several British universities and Nature Seychelles with the close collaboration of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. The sousouri banan is possibly the rarest bat in the world. Five main foraging areas were located on Mahé, but no bats were located on Praslin or La Digue, suggesting the species has recently become extinct on both islands.

Terence says the funds provided under his award will support a follow-up project to investigate the reasons behind the severe population decline of the bat and to take measures for conservation. More roosts and foraging areas will be identified, to build a more detailed picture of the bat’s ecology. In addition, community awareness and education will be undertaken to facilitate local support and active involvement in the bat’s conservation.

A team consisting of Terence and colleagues from Nature Seychelles and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources which worked on the bat project last year will implement the follow-up.  A new team member, Dr. Paula Senior, a bat expert with research experience in South America,  Europe and the Mascarenes will join them. Terence says that Rachel Bristol from Nature Seychelles and Perley Constance  from the Ministry proved to be the best team for the bat work and he hopes others will become interested as well. In another move the BPCP will also support Terence to attend the Society for Conservation Biology Annual Meeting in San Jose, California in June.

Nature Seychelles, March 16th, 2006.

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