“In our country effective conservation is dependent on good infrastructure and equipment. It’s not really the sexy part of conservation, but without good IT equipment, vehicles, boats, information centers, accommodation, roads, supply of potable water and electricity and so forth it would be very difficult to undertake world class conservation action,” says Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles Chief Executive.
Nature Seychelles has over the last two years raised millions of rupees from several donors to improve facilities and equipment. A major refurbishment program on Cousin Island Special Reserve ongoing for more than a year is now complete and has resulted in all the infrastructure including visitor pavilions on the island either being newly built or refurbished.
“This is really important because we needed a level of comfort for our staff, volunteers, researchers and of course our eco-visitors,” says Ian Valmont, Cousin Island Coordinator. “In addition, new generators will mean excellent back up for all our electrical needs,” he concludes.
“We have a program of acquiring good boats and new engines on a regular basis as these are vital for surveillance of the Special Reserve but also to maintain a high level of health and safety for our visitors and for ourselves as well,” Assistant Chef Warden Jakakwan Hoareau adds.
On Mahe, the dirt track to our headquarters has now been transformed into a smooth concrete road which is helpful to all the visitors to our headquarters, the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman and the Heritage Garden. “People were complaining about being bogged down during the rainy season and pedestrians, mostly students and other children, had a very hard time getting in,” Bernard Solomon Admin and Operations Manager states.
The impressive and newly completed Nature X Activity Centre in the Sanctuary although not officially opened is already a hive of activity with Green Health and other activities taking place. The information kiosk in the Heritage Garden collapsed during the heavy rains in January and we had to get a mobile crane to pull the thatched roof up and install new pillars and foundations. Lucina Denis our horticulturist and Centre Caretaker, who was pleased that we could rescue the kiosk has been landscaping the Nature X building with native plants with the assistance of Frank Felice our Field Worker and Handyman. “The reclaimed coral fill around our area is not conducive for planting native plants so we had to truck in many tones of earth as well as compost,” she says.
The heavy rains had also filled the wetland at Roche Caiman to overflowing and although we had been maintaining the outflow, high tides had created a large sand bar on the beach. We needed digging machinery to improve the flow to the sea and this is now being cleared on a monthly basis by Frank.
“We expect some new fuel efficient vehicles soon as we now have more staff, more activities and higher expectations from members, partners and stakeholders, ” says Kerstin Henri the association’s Director of Strategic Operations. The association was searching for electrical vehicles but could not locate appropriate ones. “Anyway we still do not have a tax regime in the country that provides tax free importation of electrical vehicles and since these vehicles are usually more expensive than conventional ones the cost burden was too much for us,” She says.