It was December in Canada when I heard help was needed on Cousin Island’s Special Reserve. I hadn’t even heard of the Seychelles but I packed my things and hopped on a plane without expectations. A few planes, trains and countries later, I landed in paradise.
I have been a resident of this little piece of paradise for nearly 3 months now and it’s just like any regular old day job. The only difference is well…. everything.
I’ve learnt that conservation is a full time job; wildlife doesn’t take a holiday.
During turtle season, mornings began with a walk along the beach in search of some early rising turtles. Now that the turtle season has come to an end, I enjoy my coffee meetings with a few feathery friends instead.
Forests are normally filled with conversations amongst the animals; but on Cousin, the Seychelles Magpie Robins allow you to join in. A good morning whistle is all it takes for those chatty birds to accompany you through the forest.
There is a lot to be done on this tiny island.
My days are filled with tasks like pulling out invasive flora, beach clean-ups, seabird monitoring, excavating turtle nests and many others.
Once a week we spend a day checking up on seabirds to get an idea of their breeding success. We watch their eggs grow into little chicks, then bigger chicks and then fledglings, until they are strong enough to fly to freedom. Everything is constantly growing here; from tortoise and turtle hatchlings to baby chicks of all kinds; all you have to do is look around.
Once the work is done, there is time for play. On Cousin, there are infinite possibilities when you catch those few moments of free time. They can be spent hiking up the hill for fresh pineapples; snorkeling around the island to marvel at all of the sea creatures in this marine protected area; jumping off Cannon rock; or even surfing with a couple of turtles.
Mother Nature has a way of rewarding us here. The more heart you put into this work, the more beauty you will see. There is a lot to be done and I adore working hard for all of the species that surround me here.
Every evening I watch the sun fall into the sea and sometimes if I’m lucky, a friend or two will join me.
Before coming to Cousin, I knew of the global changes caused by pollution, but living on this tiny island, I witness it first-hand - we often have to pick up flip flops, water bottles, juice boxes, lighters, plastics, and styrofoam to name a few.
I absolutely loved every single one of my days spent here. Each one filled with new experiences. The work is fascinating, the company is great, and the water is fine. Life is short; we mustn’t forget to look around.
Thank you Cousin, until next time.
By Emma La Fontaine. Emma spent some time on Cousin Island as a Turtle helper. She shared this field blog on her experiences there.
Find out how you can get immersed in Cousin Island’s conservation work through the Conservation Boot Camp Programme