Cousin Island is a special nature reserve managed by Nature Seychelles and is located approx. 2km off the South West coast of Praslin. Its next door neighbour is Cousine Island, also a nature reserve but also doubles as a luxury resort.
The island was once a coconut plantation and it had once been cleared to allow space for the coconut trees but since being purchased by Birdlife International in 1968 the island has been restored to its original lush vegetation. Cousin has a variation in environments; wetlands, seashore and hills and this is one the the reasons why many different species thrive on the island and why so many endemic species have settled here.
As with Aride Island, in order to prevent the introduction of pests to the island, when visitors arrive they must be transferred to the Cousin Island boat and there is a small fee to pay to visit the island. The landing on the island is a little bit more graceful than on Aride but still a bumpy one!
Cousin Island is the most important breeding site in the Western Indian Ocean for Hawksbill turtles. The Hawksbill nesting season starts in September and lasts until march. Hopefully we will be lucky enough during our time here to go over and see some hatchlings. It is also home to the Giant Tortoise and like Aride and Bird Islands, home to many birds. The island is privileged to say that it makes homes to some of the Seychelles rarest birds; Seychelles Bush Warbler and Seychelles Magpie Robin. We had the pleasure to see many of the Magpie Robins on our trip to Cousin after one of the senior wardens used his knowledge of the birds to call them over; they like it when some of the undergrowth is cleared to make a fresh area in the soil and the birds then hop around and try to catch some grub!
The island attracts many more endemic birds such as the Seychelles Sunbird, Fody and Blue Pigeon. They also have many beautiful seabirds such as Fairy Terns, White Tailed Tropic birds, Noddies and many more. As with Bird Island, many of the birds here nest on the ground or in hollow tree trunks as they do not have to worry about predators. When walking around the island we seen many different species of bird and heard even more! The young birds are so cute and fluffy!
As well as having such diversity on land, Cousin Island is also part of the world’s largest coral reef restoration programs. Jay has been very lucky to be involved in this and has had the opportunity to join the Reef Rescuers and assist them in their work.
What was very different to Aride Island was that we were not allowed to have a picnic or to spend extra time here on Cousin. We had the tour and then had to leave. This is understandable, as the volunteers and wardens have lots of work to do and they also do not want any rubbish left or any human damage around the island, if they allow people to roam around freely they could disturb the wildlife and undo some of the important work they have built up over the years.
Cousin island has many volunteers and they do some great work; they have a Conservation Boot Camp course and definitely put their volunteers through the paces. It is a great Island and I am sure it will continue to impress and grow in diversity!