Jonathan Jürgensen volunteered with Nature Seychelles' LEAP (Local Empowerment Area Protection) project based in Cap Ternay from 24 July to 18 August. He is the fourth volunteer to join the program, which is studying the mangroves at the RAMSAR site in Port Glaud.
He collected and helped planted mangrove saplings
A tropical symphony of mild showers and the prevailing South East trade winds welcomed him to our shores when he first arrived.
But it is the island's roads that made the biggest impression as he travelled from the airport to the base at Cap Ternay.
“The steep slopes and sharp curves around the island's mountains felt dangerous," he exclaims. “Bus trips, which I tried later, are also quite different from anything on the European continent. However, I felt well, welcomed, and curious to learn more about this place,” he says.
The initial weeks of his volunteer work was a blend of presentations on Seychelles' unique ecosystems and mangrove ecology, community engagement, and scientific fieldwork.
Fieldwork included data collection: tree measurements, identifying plant and animal species, and trash collection at the RAMSAR site. "We covered much of the area, revealing different species compositions and mangrove growth stages. The tight root networks slowed down fieldwork at times, with some quadrats taking hours to complete,” he explains.
“We also visited the different wetlands at Cap Ternay and looked at the reefs of Baie Ternay and Port Launay, as well as two lagoons. At low tide, I also looked at all of the different seagrass species at Baie Ternay. During frequent visits to the beach, I observed fish and multiple species of rays,” he adds.
He participated in local community engagement events
He learnt the importance of community engagement through his participation in the program. Although his volunteer role limited direct involvement, he attended a co-management meeting, which revealed the nuanced complexities of conservation efforts. A mangrove planting event he participated in also demonstrated local commitment to reviving and protecting wetlands.
To contribute further, he collected and helped plant over 500 mangrove saplings near Cap Ternay.
The rest of his time was spent sightseeing and discovering Mahe.
“We hiked to the top of Morne Blanc and had a breathtaking view of the island,” he enthused.
Free time was spent hiking and sightseeing
"The forests are generally comfortable places to walk and work in. Cinnamon trees and leaf litter spread a pleasant fragrance. Compared to other tropical forests I have been to, the number of mosquitoes is extremely low and there are no real dangers like poisonous snakes. In Brazil or Indonesia, I would never have stepped into a pile of dry leaves or through ferns and bushes,” he says. “I also walked around a lot close to the base, to Port Glaud, and on longer trails to Anse Major and further to Beau Vallon.”
A dash of adventure arrived with the prospect of spotting a whale shark after one was seen in the marine national park. Though the hoped-for sighting remained elusive, he was gifted a glimpse of playful dolphins.
“While I did not see a whale or a shark in my time in Seychelles, I did see a tenrec and the Aldabra giant tortoises.” he concludes.