An insider's view of living on a nature reserve

A unique and immersive experience awaits volunteers at Cousin Island. Their natural surroundings are pristine, and they are surrounded by wildlife. Life on a nature reserve is not without its challenges and limitations, however as some past volunteers shared.

There are birds everywhere

There are birds everywhere

The rhythm of the island

On an island, you live by nature's clock from dawn to dusk. Humans are awakened by birds at dawn. This can be disconcerting if you're not used to it.

“The sound of the birds was overwhelming – I knew this place was a haven for sea birds but I hadn't realized how many there would be!” says Nina.

Originally purchased to save the near-extinct Seychelles Warbler, the island now hosts thousands of endemic forest birds and 7 species of breeding seabirds. For such a small island, that's a lot of birds.

Birds, however, are the reason some, like Kevin, come to Cousin in the first place. As a birder in my native England, I was seduced by such exotic beauties as magpie-robins and warblers. Throw in some noddies, the whiter than white fairy terns, plus the chance of such stonkers as crab plovers, well, why wouldn’t I leave my desk behind?” he asks.

The clock is set according to whatever flora and fauna you are watching that day. As wildlife can be unpredictable, sometimes things don't go as planned. Waiting for a Hawksbill turtle to nest or trying to catch an unringed bird could take hours.

“My first encounter with a Hawksbill turtle was a failure-to-nest. A turtle lumbered around the beach, dug three chambers only to find rocks and tree roots, then left for the sea," says Liam, providing insight into nesting site needs for turtles.

Wildlife is everywhere

Most volunteers say they encounter more wildlife than they expected. Some animals will live with you, others will be your breakfast companions. “I soon discovered that living here also means sharing a house - especially the kitchen - with skinks, fodys, crabs and geckos, all ready to seize any opportunity to come inside and help themselves to any food items left unattended,” Ines says resignedly.

A volunteer actively engages in all activities

A volunteer actively engages in all activities

Conservation work

Cousin Island is a wonderful place to volunteer alongside dedicated conservationists. A volunteer actively engages in all activities, acquires valuable skills, and connects to the natural world.
While patrolling in the rain, I saw two tracks that led me to a turtle measuring 92 cm. As I counted the eggs, two other turtles emerged from the sea. What an unforgettable experience that was!” says Pauline, who is from neighbouring Reunion Island.

Conservation work can be demanding, however. During turtle season, you don't arrive on Cousin, work two or three hours, then lie on the beach or snorkel for the rest of the day," Adrian explained.

But the best thing to do after work? Swim in the warm ocean, surf, snorkel, or just sit on the beach and watch beautiful sunsets.

Remote living

Island life, however idyllic, is not without its challenges. Having limited access to water, electricity, and internet connectivity may be an adjustment for some. Adapting to eco-friendly practices is one of the lessons volunteers learn. It becomes a daily habit to conserve water and reduce waste. Volunteers also feel a stronger sense of community due to remoteness. Modern distractions are gone, allowing a deeper connection with nature and each other.

“During my time here, I met volunteers from around the world. The friends you make here truly add to the experience,” Sherani concludes.

Our History

Since 1998.

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

@CousinIsland Manager


Roche Caiman, Mahe


We accept donations. Your support and generosity help us continue with our work in nature conservation in Seychelles. Email nature@seychelles.netdonate

Contact Us

Centre for Environment & Education

Roche Caiman,

P.O. Box 1310, Mahe, Seychelles

Tel:+ 248 2519090