I have spent the past two years working for Nature Seychelles, living on Cousin Island Special Reserve. The price for living on such an island is paid in full when it is time to leave. Last night on my way home from dinner at my volunteer’s house across the island I was reflecting on how natural island life has become.
What would be a setting for a horror movie anywhere else, me walking through a dark forest by myself with piercing cries and night noises all around, is a slow meander home enjoying the crunch of leaves of a giant tortoise somewhere in the dark, the movement of a skink speeding away from the head torch or the screeches and calls of the shearwaters in their burrows. I will miss this.
April (Right) working with volunteers on turtle tagging
There are two species in particular that I have spent most of my time working with over the past two years, the critically endangered hawksbill turtle and the endangered Seychelles Magpie Robin. Do I get bored of seeing them? NO! There are no words to describe the pleasure of seeing these animals going about their business in a safe and natural environment.
Each evening I walk through the forest and listen to the song of the male magpie-robins as they sit high in a tree projecting music throughout their territories. I will miss this.
On a small island as Cousin the wildlife become your family
It is safe to say that living alone on a small island for two years has had it’s effects on me; I do talk to the birds and lizards, so far they haven’t replied but individuals do have distinct personalities and I smile when I see them.
I used to be afraid of creepy crawlies and now I sleep happily with giant ants, cockroaches and centipedes in close vicinity. I rinse off the day’s sweat and dirt by floating in my lagoon watching colourful fish and sometimes baby sharks swim by. I have been enveloped in nature, sheltered from the outside world and I will miss this.
Ringing birds with colored metal rings on their legs was part of April's work on Cousin
The two years I have spent on Cousin Island working with Nature Seychelles has provided me with an opportunity to take on some large conservation projects and learn how successful conservation efforts can be. This has reinforced my desire to continue to be part of the conservation sector.
I have learnt a lot of things, about individual species, ecosystems and research. I have developed my confidence and my ability to communicate effectively. Most importantly I have met and learned from so many inspiring people, and I will miss them.
April Burt, Conservation Manager, Cousin Island Special Reserve
January 2013 – March 2015