Students mark World Wetlands Day with hands-on activities at the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman
On Monday morning The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman was a hive of activities with nearly fifty students from the International School Seychelles (ISS) working on the site. The students and their teachers were at The Sanctuary to mark World Wetlands Day which is celebrated every year on the 2nd of February. The theme for this year’s World Wetlands Day is ‘Wetlands For Our Future’ and what better way to celebrate it than with the future generation?
The ISS group of students was made up of fifteen 12-13 year olds form year eight, ten 16-17 year olds from year twelve and twenty juniors from the wildlife clubs. On arrival, the students were given an introduction by Robin Hanson, Nature Seychelles eco-health coordinator on the importance of wetlands vis-à-vis climate change mitigation, wildlife habitat and benefit for human utilization. The very reasons the Convention on Wetlands was signed in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran.
Using nets to collect litter out of the water
The youngest group of students learned about the impact of solid waste in Seychelles examining pieces of litter within the Sanctuary and with the help of their teachers separating these into items that could be re-used or those that would be properly disposed of. Plastic bottles have already been earmarked for the trial of insect control at Nature Seychelles’ Heritage (organic) Garden.
Snippets of conversations by these youngsters were entertaining while at the same time profoundly thought-provoking. “Why was this thrown away when it can be made into something else”, asked one student. Certainly, it is unappealing as well as environmentally damaging to have things that can either be re-used or recycled stuck in what is such an important part of the natural world as a wetland is.
Collecting mangrove seeds
Although Nature Seychelles manages the only urban wetland in the Seychelles it is encouraging to know that members of ISS Wildlife Club will be playing a part in boosting the vitality of at least one of the wetlands in Seychelles. In addition to collecting seeds to plant at The Sanctuary, they also collected mangrove seeds which they were then going to plant on the wetland by the marine academy.
The older students were tooled up to take part in ecological restoration in the Sanctuary. They were all briefed as to health and safety and all wore heavy duty gloves and boots ready for this vital part of conservation. They worked in different groups depending on what tools they were carrying. There were machetes, secateurs, saws, spades, pick axes, bars and shovels working on clearing invasive species like the casuarina tree, habitat pool creation or fish refuge creation.
Digging a new habitat pool
The students worked eagerly and tirelessly up to when they had to head back to school for their afternoon sessions. They dug and chopped, and cut and waded in the water but always with smiles on their faces. The students completed a huge task in the time they were at The Sanctuary not only saving Nature Seychelles many man hours but also improving the habitat while learning hands-on about the importance of wetlands and conservation in general.
The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman has helped in preventing flooding in the recent years as used to be the case on the adjacent main road and entrance into the site after heavy rains. The Sanctuary in Roche Caiman is also home to fish, birds, insects and other species which have colonised the site over the years.