The 50 years of conservation success witnessed on Cousin Island Special Reserve have created a legacy that is delivering multiple benefits for nature and people locally and globally, the BirdLife International Regional Director for Africa, Ademola Ajagbe has said.
Mr. Ajagbe said this after a recent visit to the world renowned conservation site, which was purchased by BirdLife International in 1968 to save a near extinct endemic bird, the Seychelles warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis). Then a coconut enterprise, the island was transformed into a thriving ecosystem providing long term conservation impact for both nature and people.
Ademola Ajagbe (3rd left, back row) with Nature Seychelles Chief Executive, Nirmal Shah, and the Cousin Island team.
The benefits include saving critically endangered species, ecotourism, providing a living laboratory for research, innovative programmes such as the coral reef restoration that lend themselves to replication, combating climate change and training future conservationists through the Conservation Boot Camp. All these are both tangible and long term, and have come as a result of the belief that it is possible to make a difference.
"The success of Cousin means a lot for BirdLife. Cousin shows that the journey may be long, but nothing is unachievable. We can make a huge difference." Ajagbe said.
"A visit to Cousin is phenomenal," he added. "It's going to see how conservation can really achieve impact. It encourages a lot of people because it shows we can deliver significant results for bird and wider conservation from local to global scale."
Mr. Ajagbe was accompanied to Cousin by Nature Seychelles' Chief Executive Dr. Nirmal Jivan Shah.
“Conservation is a marathon not a sprint - it is not for the faint hearted nor for those wanting quick fixes. Nevertheless, we have proven without doubt that we can save species in our lifetime,” Dr. Shah said.
Conservation is a marathon not a sprint. Photo - Noddy breeding season.
Thomas Sberna, the Regional Technical Coordinator Coastal and Ocean Resilience at the IUCN regional office, who is working with Nature Seychelles on a new and exciting regional project and was also on the trip to the island, said that there was a lot of inspiration that can be drawn from Cousin for Seychelles and the rest of the region.
"I've never been on an island like this before. You can see that conservation has been successful here for many years and this is something that should be replicated. We sometimes struggle to make the case for nature conservation, but here it's evident," he said.
Commending the team on the island, Sberna said that he could see their commitment and stewardship. "You see that those guys know what they are doing and they are really passionate about it. I think that the leadership and dedication shown by Nature Seychelles teams are a key factor to the success for the island and conservation in general."
Part of the Cousin Island team.
"I think there's plenty more to do such as in coastal and coral restoration in the region. There are already innovative things that are currently being done by Nature Seychelles that can really inspire other organisations and other countries. I can't wait to come back and show the place and success to other partners. We really need to show that this is what success actually looks like."