Nature Seychelles has been looking after the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman for over 15 years using various sources of funds for the maintenance work that keeps the wetland in shape. Covid-19, however, has caused revenue shortfalls, leading the NGO to find other ways to manage the urban wetland. It is exploring inclusive, multi-stakeholder partnerships to do this.
Prison service staff digging to clear the drainage channel the serves the wetland
One such partnership is with the community. Over the years, numerous volunteers including schoolchildren, members of the local community, staff of corporate entities, and visiting army personnel have helped with activities at the Sanctuary. Nature Seychelles is building on this model during these strained times. The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman is an excellent candidate for this approach. It's embedded in the community and is near Victoria, making it accessible.
Last week, the Seychelles Prison Service answered the call for help to maintain the main drainage channel that regulates water flowing in and out of the marsh. The activity was undertaken as part of the Prison Service Week. Equipped with spades and digging hoes, the group of enthusiastic staff led by the Superintendent of the Prison, Raymond St. Ange, removed rubble and sand from the channel, allowing water to move in and out of the wetland.
Minister for Internal Affairs Errol Fonseka with Mr. Raymond St. Ange and Dr. Nirmal Shah during the activity
"Our low-key approach of shovels and human energy meant a small footprint as we cleared the way to the wetland area. It was indeed our pleasure to do this for nature and for Nature Seychelles. Hopefully, this will resonate positively and more help will be forthcoming," said Mr. St. Ange.
"Today went very well, and all staff worked hard to get the job done. The group was mostly females, who were all motivated and joined hands to work on the channel. The team spirit was high, and they did the job in a flash. We look forward to helping Nature Seychelles as much as we can," added probation officer, Lindy Nancy.
The Sanctuary serves as a natural flood regulator for the area, soaking up water and removing it to prevent flooding during heavy rains. "We are really pleased that the prison service offered to do this for us. There is an urgent need to mobilize new, sustainable, partnerships for managing natural sites," said Chief Executive, Dr. Nirmal Shah.
Minister for Internal Affairs, Errol Fonseka, visited the group to offer his support and called for similar initiatives to benefit society.
The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman before and after maintenance of the drainage channel
By the evening of the same day, water had begun to flow freely through the channel. "They provided an important service to us, which will have positive and lasting effects. The fact that they gave up their time and energy to be here is inspiring," said Nature Seychelles' Eric Blais, who coordinated the activity.
With the sustained rainfall experienced over the weekend and early in the week, the Sanctuary is once again flourishing with migratory birds, crabs, and mudskippers enjoying this newness. The site is a popular spot for edutainment, and has been used for meetings and events, and for ‘nature therapy’ activities.