A report from Nature Seychelles’ International Volunteer Program
After university, I spent two years at a desk job; it was conservation work, but it was a desk job all the same. I had a routine, wake up at 6.30, get ready, go to work and spend hours at a desk writing reports, creating proposals, reviewing data, then even more writing, and then come home too late and too tired to really do anything else.
I lived for the weekends when I would get to go outside and enjoy the sunlight on my skin, walk around town, or visit the beach or the numerous nature reserves in my country on a weekend trip with friends and family. Most of the time though, the sheer amount of paperwork I was assigned, meant weekends were often spent sitting at a computer typing away the hours.
It was mind-numbingly boring to say the least and not a day went by without me sighing loudly at some point and claiming ‘I can feel my brain cells dying!’ to my co-workers. I craved to be outside, to work with the animals I wanted to protect – I wanted to be in the field, at the center of it all. Finally reaching the end of my tolerance level, I packed a bag and flew here, to Cousin Island Special Reserve, to volunteer with Nature Seychelles.
A tropicbird pair on Cousin Island
Now I have a different routine wake up at 7 (on days that I don’t have a 6 AM morning turtle patrol), make tea, sit outside and watch the blue waves crash onto the sandy white shore, do my turtle patrols, do morning Seychelles Magpie Robin surveys and whatever other activity assigned for the day, and in between all that, cook, go for a swim or even a snorkel and read one of the books I’ve been meaning to for the last two years (I brought them all with me).
There is so much life here, everywhere you look: the ground, the skies, the sea, all filled with life. It’s a different experience to city life, with people hurrying everywhere, stressing about, chasing the ever present rat race. Every minute of the day here, you see birds flying gaily about, Giant tortoises munching away on grass, Crabs scurrying around the sand digging holes and best of all - Turtles. You see so many in a day, you often have to remind yourself what a blessing it is you’ve even seen one.
My first turtle tag
Working here is a complete contrast to working at my desk job; there, at any point of the day I would be sitting in the same place as before surrounded by files and folders, occasionally staring out the window and wishing I were outside instead. Here, I am outside all the time, surrounded by wildlife and unless I am assigned Data Entry for the day, I am never at a computer (excluding house movie nights of course). I have gained experience in monitoring techniques and in island conservation during my time volunteering with Nature Seychelles.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all peace and quiet on Cousin Island; work on most days is exhausting, but it’s a good exhausting. At my desk job, every day I felt was a day wasted, a day I could have spent doing something more useful. Here, I get into bed and feel as though I haven’t wasted a single second of my time.
By Dimuthu Jayakody