The sunrise is exquisite, the forest lush. The wind is gusty and the sea is choppy. Tropicbirds squawk, fodys chirrup, while skinks scuttle. The tortoises are languid, the mosquitoes, ferocious. The wardens are skilled and the tourists are eager. The sunsets are pink-sky-filled with dusty grey clouds. The nights were moonlit. This is how Sally, a volunteer, vividly described her one month on Cousin Island Special Reserve.
You can reconnect with nature
She forms a group of local and international volunteers who have spent time on the Special Reserve helping with a variety of conservation activities.
Conservation volunteering is sought after. But why do people leave the comfort of their homes to do it? Here are some of the reasons based on feedback we have received from our volunteers.
Connecting with nature. Volunteering offers a wholesome and ethical immersion into wild places, especially for those who feel disconnected from nature. In addition, it's a great opportunity to see wildlife up close. "I live in a city and my interactions with animals are limited to pets, pigeons, tube mice, and the occasional 3 am fox. Close proximity to wild animals is rare," Tyche reveals.
Saving endangered species. Volunteers work directly on programs that save endangered species. Once trained, volunteers on Cousin Island contribute to the conservation of Seychelles magpie robins and Hawksbill turtles. "I gained an appreciation for turtle conservation and the importance of data collection in determining nesting patterns and populations," Georgia says.
Nature needs protection
Enhancing conservation and personal skills. Volunteering can help you gain practical conservation skills. Additionally, you will learn to collaborate and communicate, think critically, solve problems, and be curious and adaptable. "The responsibilities I was given made me realize I am capable of more than I let myself believe," declares Andrea.
Giving back. Many people want to give back to the environment but don't know how to. Volunteering directly with an organization or participating in activities like beach clean-ups allows one to do so. Kai says, "My work has nothing to do with this. But, nature deserves protection. It allows me to give back."
Travelling and experiencing other cultures. By volunteering outside one's country or locality, one broadens their mind and develops their cultural awareness. Working and spending time with the wardens on Cousin introduced Alina to a new culture, while Lorenzo saw and learned more about Seychelles than he ever expected.
It challenges you and helps expand your boundaries
Encourage pro-environmental behaviours. Exposure to nature can help you to become an advocate for nature and change hearts and minds. "I wanted to broaden my awareness and explore ways to restore and protect Praslin's natural environment further," says Juliette. "We had fewer things here on Cousin than we are normally used to; less water, less food, less power, less trash. I will teach paring down to the people in my circle," Marina says.
Challenging yourself: Volunteering often takes people out of their comfort zone, especially in remote areas. The lack of luxuries and conveniences "civilization" offers can cause personal struggle, but it also helps expand one's boundaries," Leonie writes.