Lending a helping hand to animals in distress

During routine monitoring of seabird breeding success on Cousin Island yesterday, warden Aurelie stumbled on a tortoise flipped onto its back. The male tortoise had been bested in a skirmish with another. Aurelie rescued the struggling animal, putting it back on its feet. This encounter highlights the interventions involved in conserving wildlife. 

eggs are translocated

Here are some examples.

Birds and the Mapou

Pisonia grandis (Mapou in Creole), a native tree on Cousin Island is called the bird killer or bird catcher tree. It has earned this notorious name due to its unique and gruesome interaction with birds. The tree’s sticky seeds attach to birds’ feathers and when too many get stuck on their feathers, birds cannot fly. This results in death by starvation or crab predation. This is a natural phenomenon on tropical islands where the Mapou is widespread.

However, the Nature Seychelles team sometimes tries to save as many birds as they can by removing the seeds off their feathers, particularly from endemic land birds such as the Seychelles Magpie Robin, which was rescued from the brink of extinction in the 1990s and is still highly managed and others like Seychelles fodys and warblers. It is possible to gently remove the seeds from birds in some circumstances. However, if the bird is heavily covered this becomes difficult without pulling out feathers. Sadly, the Mapou still takes many victims during heavy fruiting, especially in seabird populations.

Hawksbill turtles

Recent beach erosion has significantly impacted females and their ability to nest. Female turtles can spend more time and energy searching for suitable nesting sites on eroded beaches.
Just this week, a turtle had to be rescued from exhaustion after becoming disoriented in a depression on the beach under excruciating heat. Upon noticing her poor condition, the turtle team provided assistance, including shade, until she recovered. She returned to the ocean. Turtles have also been rescued after getting stuck between exposed tree trunks or falling on their backs and being unable to get up.

In addition, eroded beaches are more likely to flood, especially during high tides. In the absence of available nesting space, nests are at risk of being waterlogged when they are too close to the high-water mark. To give the eggs a chance of hatching, nests are translocated. The turtle team monitors translocated nests to gauge hatching success. One such nest was translocated in December of 2023 to prevent waterlogging. It had a 90% success rate, a credit to the care and attention of the turtle team.

Entangled nurse shark

Entangled shark

The Cousin team is more accustomed to saving land animals. But when they encountered a nurse shark entangled in a trap, they acted immediately. The shark, exhausted from its attempts to escape, was carefully brought to shore, where the snare was removed and it was released back into the ocean. Incidents like this emphasize the necessity of protected areas around Cousin Island, such as the 400m exclusion zone. Such zones are vital for safeguarding fish spawning grounds and nurseries, and preventing overfishing. A significant factor contributing to the decline of shark populations is the removal of immature sharks from the ecosystem before they can breed. Thus, interventions like these can save individual sharks and contribute to the health of marine ecosystems in general.

Our History

Since 1998.

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

@CousinIsland Manager

Facebook: http://goo.gl/Q9lXM

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