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  • An excursion to a nature reserve offers sun, fun, well-being, and a sense of responsibility towards the environment. Many tourists say this when asked how they would sum up their day at Cousin Island Special Reserve. They also mention seeing wildlife they've never seen before and enjoying Mother Nature's beauty. It is also a chance to get some fresh air and vitamin D. There's no doubt that a...
  • Not all heroes wear capes. Our staff on Cousin Island decked out only in t-shirts and shorts, and often barefooted, certainly fit this adage. They keep to a grueling schedule, ushering visitors onto the reserve for the island's widely acclaimed ecotourism program in the morning, and working on varied conservation activities in the afternoon.
  • 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...
  • Our Chief Executive Dr. Nirmal Shah is in Cambridge UK for the BirdLife100 World Congress, which is from 11-16 September. BirdLife celebrates its centennial this year. The congress brings together the global BirdLife partnership, which currently works in 115 countries.
  • The Green turtle (Chelonia mydas, Torti-d-mer in Creole) rarely nests on Cousin Island Special Reserve. Between July and August, small numbers appear sporadically.
  • More news...
  • Full enforcement of fishery management plan kicks in on October 1

    (Seychelles Nation 23.9.2022) Effective October 1, 2022 any person who contravenes the Fisheries (Mahé Plateau Trap and Line Fishery) Regulations, 2021, under the Fisheries ACT (Act 20 of 2014) will be committing an offence and if found guilty, will be fined up to R20,000. The plan, which prescribes measures for the[…]

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  • Efforts to pass global ocean protection treaty fail

    (BBC News) A fifth effort to pass a global agreement to protect the world's oceans and marine life has failed. Talks to pass the UN High Seas Treaty had been ongoing for two weeks in New York, but governments could not agree on the terms. Despite international waters representing nearly two-thirds of[…]

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Up for a challenge? Research with the #ReefRescuers

Volunteer Scientific Researcher web focus

Dive into coral reef restoration with our Reef Rescuers. We have a unique opportunity for an MSc student (ongoing) to run a particular research aspect of the project alongside the team. Learn more

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Implementing the SDGs

At Nature Seychelles we are committed to working with government, development partners and donors in implementing relevant actions, in particular, looking at certain goals where we can build on our existing strengths. Read more

 

Seychelles Wildlife

Natural environment of the Seychelles

Seychelles is a unique environment, which sustains a very special biodiversity. It is special for a number of different reasons. These are the oldest oceanic islands to be found anywhere...

Bird Watching

Seychelles is a paradise for birdwatchers, you can easily see the unique land birds, the important sea bird colonies, and the host of migrants and vagrants. Some sea bird...

Seychelles Black Parrot

Black Parrot or Kato Nwar in Creolee is brown-grey in colour, not truly black. Many bird experts treat it as a local form of a species found in Madagascar and...

Fairy Tern

The Fairy (or white) Tern is a beautiful bird seen on all islands in Seychelles, even islands like Mahe where they are killed by introduced rats, cats and Barn Owls....

Introduced Land Birds

A little over two hundred years ago, there were no humans living permanently in Seychelles. When settlement occurred, people naturally brought with them the animals and plants they needed to...

Native Birds

Although over 190 different species of bird have been seen on or around the central islands of Seychelles (and the number is increasing all the time), many of these are...

Migrant Shore Birds

Shallow seas and estuaries are very rich in invertebrate life. Many birds feed on the worms, crabs and shellfish in these habitats; often, they have long bills for probing sand...

Seychelles Magpie Robin

The most endangered of the endemic birds, Seychelles Magpie Robin or Pi Santez in Creole, came close to extinction in the late twentieth century; in 1970 there were only about...

Seychelles Blue Pigeon

The Seychelles Blue Pigeon or Pizon Olande in Creole, spends much of its life in the canopy of trees and eats the fruits of figs, bwa dir, ylang ylang and...

Seychelles White-eye

The Seychelles White-eye or Zwazo Linet in Creole, is rare and endemic. They may sometimes be seen in gardens and forest over 300m at La Misere, Cascade and a few...

Seychelles Black Paradise Flycatcher

The Seychelles Black Paradise Flycatcher or the Vev in Creole is endemic to Seychelles, you cannot find this bird anywhere else on earth. Although it was once widespread on...

Seychelles Sunbird

The tiny sunbird or Kolibri in Creole, is one of the few endemic species that has thrived since humans arrived in the Seychelles.

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Achievements

  • Stopped near extinctions of birds +

    Down-listing of the critically endangered Seychelles warbler from Critically Endangered to Near Threatened. Other Seychelles birds have also been saved including the Seychelles Magpie Robin, Seychelles Fody, and the Seychelles
  • Restored whole island ecosystems +

    We transformed Cousin Island from a coconut plantation to a thriving vibrant and diverse island ecosystem. Success achieved on Cousin was replicated on other islands with similar conservation activities.
  • Championed climate change solutions +

    Nature Seychelles has risen to the climate change challenge in our region in creative ways to adapt to the inevitable changing of times.
  • Education and Awareness +

    We have been at the forefront of environmental education, particularly with schools and Wildlife clubs
  • Sustainable Tourism +

    We manage the award-winning eco-tourism programme on Cousin Island started in 1970
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Cousin Island

cousin SAFELABEL.22.3.2021

Cousin Island is certified as safe to welcome visitors by the Department of Tourism and the Public Health Authority, and all members of staff are vaccinated.

To enable a smooth and swift disembarkation, we are asking tour operators and solo travellers to please fill in the attached form and bring it with them.


Cousin Island Special Reserve is a granitic island covering 29 hectares and lies approximately 2km from Praslin island. It became the world’s first internationally owned-reserve when it was purchased in 1968 by the International Council for the Protection of Birds (ICBP), now Birdlife International. The objective was to save the last remaining population of the Seychelles warblers.

First made into a Nature Reserve in 1968 it was afforded further protection when it was designated a Special Reserve in 1974. It is not only significant for sea birds and endemic land birds but is also the most important breeding site for Hawksbill turtles in the Western Indian Ocean. The reserve is managed solely by local staff and benefits local communities on the neighboring Praslin island through eco-tourism.

Looking around Cousin today, it is hard to believe that this vibrant and diverse island ecosystem was once a coconut plantation.  When the island was first settled in the early 1900's, the original vegetation on the plateau was cleared to make way for profitable coconut trees as well as a small garden. Cousin has been successfully restored to its original vegetation, creating homes for many endemic species of land birds and important beeding sites for seabirds.

Today, Cousin is managed by Nature Seychelles.  Conservation activities include monitoring of the island's biodiversity, research, re-introduction of endangered species such as the Seychelles Magpie Robin, ecotourism and education.

Cousin has received international awards for its conservation and ecotourism efforts  by Conde Nast Traveler and  Bristish Airways.

Getting there

how to get to cousin

Cousin Island attracts some 10,000 visitors a year and also caters for educational groups and  locals. Travel agencies are responsible for organizing the transfer of foreign visitors to Cousin Island where they are then transferred to the Cousin boat, a measure implemented to prevent the accidental introduction of pests onto the Reserve.

The island is open to visitors five days a week (Monday to Friday), between 10:00 a.m. and midday, and there is no overnight accommodation. Visitors pay an entry fee of SCR 600 for all non-residents including children and SCR 300 for residents.

Film crews and commercial photographers pay commercial fees and should contact the Mahe office prior to getting to Cousin. Telephone: (Mahe Office) +248 2519090, (Cousin Island) +248 2605700, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Locals or educational groups should contact the Nature Seychelles office on Mahe for details regarding the transfer from Praslin Island to Cousin Island. 

Fauna and flora

Despite its small size, Cousin boasts a number of species and habitats. The plateau forest is characterized by mapou Pisonia grandis, Indian mulberry Morinda citrifolia and bwa sousouri Ochrosia

oppositifolia where many of the landbirds can be seen. There are wetlands where fresh water attracts dragonflies and moorhens; the hill  creates ideal nesting sites for shearwaters and bridled terns; on the seashore crabs and shorebirds abound. The coastal vegetation comprises casuarinas Casuarina equisetifolia, vouloutye scaevola sericea and bwa matlo suriana maritime that help in coastal protection as well as providing habitats.

Five of Seychelles eleven endemic land birds are found on Cousin Island. They include the Seychelles magpie robin Copsychus seychellarum, Seychelles sunbird Nectarinia dussumieri, Seychelles fody Foudia seychellarum, Seychelles blue pigeon Alectroenas pulcherrima in addition to the warbler.

Seven species of nesting seabirds occur in numbers exceeding 300,000 individuals; fairy terns Gygis alba and white tailed tropic birds Phaethon lepturus nest all year round, whilst lesser noddies Anous tenuirostris, brown noddies Anous stolidus and bridled terns Sterna anaethetus have different breeding seasons. Two varieties of shearwaters, Audubon’s shearwater Puffinis lherminieri and the wedge-tailed shearwater Puffinus pacificus are found on the island. The former breeds all year round whilst the wedge- tailed shearwater breeds from May to October. A recent census was undertaken to determine their numbers and estimated the population at 11,000 individuals.


Science and Conservation

Cousin Island  is recognised as one of the most important nesting sites in the western Indian Ocean for hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata. Some 30-100 turtles come ashore to nest a year in broad daylight, whilst elsewhere they nest under the cover of darkness. Other reptiles found here include Aldabra giant tortoises Geochelone gigantea, and four endemic skinks – the Seychelles skink Mabouya sechellensis, Wright’s skink Mabuya wrighti, the bronze gecko Ailuronyx seychellensis and the burrowing skink Pamelaescincus gardeneri, as well as a native green gecko Phelsuma astriata, giving Cousin Island one of the highest lizard densities per hectare in the world.

The Special Reserve area includes the surrounding marine area up to 400km offshore.

Comparative studies have revealed that Cousin’s reefs have the highest fish biomass compared to reefs in other marine protected areas in the granitic islands. However, the reefs have suffered bleaching as a result of a rise in sea water temperature in 1997/8. Nature Seychelles and its partners have been conducting surveys to understand more about the impacts of the bleaching and the recovery of the reefs.

Conservation management

The transformation of the island from a coconut plantation to an ecologically-restored island has taken place through a policy of habitat restoration. As a result, conservation on Cousin has enjoyed great success with a 300% increase in the population of warblers, and Seychelles fodies have now attained a healthy population. There has also been successful translocation of magpie robins from Fregate Island, as well as movement of fodies from Cousin to Aride Island and both now have a viable population.

Changes in vegetation are being monitored, especially after the storm of 2002, to assess any impact on the animals that depend on them. There is an ongoing programme to weed invasive creepers and other species that proliferated in clearings created by gaps in the forest canopy after the storm. Cousin is today one of the few islands free of cats, rats and mice, a cause of the demise of the native fauna on other islands. This is a result of strict regulations visitors and wardens working on the island have to adhere to.

Carbon Neutrality

carbon neutral label 18In 2009, Carbon Clear, a leading European carbon management company, was to assess the footprint of conservation and tourism activities on Cousin Island Special Reserve. This included both on and off island costs as well as the hotel, transport and other relevant impacts of  our international visitors. We found that we were responsible for more than 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents annually.

The restored forest on Cousin was estimated to absorb certain amount of this. But the bulk had to be offset. Carbon Clear searched for a carbon sequestration project that met several internationally agreed criteria and found an improved cook-stove project in the Darfur region of Sudan where the appropriate number of carbon credits were purchased to make Cousin the 1st carbon Neutral Nature Reserve.

The scheme is unique in that it invests funds derived from eco-tourism in Seychelles into climate adaptation projects in other countries. Two projects in Brazil and Indonesia are recipients of the carbon offset funds this year. The Brazilian project prevents deforestation and protects the Cerrado Biome by using agricultural waste in place of deforested wood to fire community based ceramic kilns. The Indonesian project made a number of vital upgrades to an existing conventional power station using coal to make it geo-thermal.

VISIT THE COUSIN ISLAND WEBSITE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ISLAND>

Attachments:
Download this file (COUSIN ISLAND VISITORS LOG-HEALTH.pdf)Cousin Island Visitors Health Log[ ]178 kB

Partners & Awards

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Our History

Since 1998.

Seychelles Nature, Green HealthClimate Change, Biodiversity Conservation & Sustainability Organisation

@CousinIsland Manager

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Roche Caiman, Mahe

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Centre for Environment & Education

Roche Caiman,

P.O. Box 1310, Mahe, Seychelles

Tel:+ 248 2519090

Email: nature@seychelles.net