Boot camp in conservation offered on island in Seychelles
A lesson in taking blood samples from a juvenile Seychelles Magpie Robin ( Jedida Oneko )
(Seychelles News Agency) - Do you dream of taking a break from your desk job? A boot camp conservation programme in Seychelles could be what you’re looking for.
The chief executive of Nature Seychelles, Nirmal Jivan Shah, says that the newly launched pilot project on Cousin Island is the first in the world. The programme is designed to give several competencies and character qualities needed in the 21st century.
“Participants are embedded in the programme of the special reserve which also includes eco-tourism tours every day. They learn various formal skills and techniques. They have to live in field conditions to prepare them for real life conservation,” said Shah.
Participants can gain practical knowledge by “learning by doing” with field staff and researchers. Vegetation monitoring is also an important part of the programme. Other activities will help give an understanding of how to improve the island’s running, understanding the environment in which the biodiversity exists and others will focus on bringing more fun to the islands.
|Ludivine Ammon a recent participant checking Seychelles Magpie Robins' nest boxes using a mirror attached to a rod. ( Yan Coquet) Photo License: CC-BY
Shah said that Nature Seychelles -- a not-for-profit organisation -- introduced the programme because they found that many young graduates want to work in conservation but do not understand the real world of biodiversity and conservation.
The conservation boot camp programme runs throughout the year and a course lasts for one month in a group of six people. Each month the schedule varies depending on biological events like seabird season and turtle-laying season.
“I would like to see more Seychellois join because in my experience many of our people who get environmental jobs do not have field experience and many times go straight from university into office based jobs, said Shah.
One of the most eco-friendly places in Seychelles, Cousin Island is a must-see for any environment-keen visitor. Covering 27 hectares and located around two kilometres from Praslin, the second-most populated island, Cousin is one of Seychelles’ Special Reserves.
The island is not only significant for seabirds and endemic land birds but is also the most important breeding site for hawksbill turtles in the Western Indian Ocean. Cousin is overseen by Nature Seychelles and considered a haven for animal lovers and eco-travellers.
|Participants in the program get to learn guided tours to those who visit Cousin Island, which has one of the longest-running ecotourism programmes in the Country ( Jedida Oneko) Photo License: CC-BY
A participant of the pilot programme, Charline Leroy, said, “I have just one word that comes to mind, amazing! This experience was great, not just the conservation training on Cousin Island. The life on a natural reserve with animal is so surprising.”
Leroy, who has a bachelor’s degree in biology, said that the work is diverse and every day she re-discovers the life on Cousin as “we had to always keep our eyes open and observe things differently each time.”
She added that the programme gave her more than her degree and that was “practical skills, plus I enhanced my knowledge in conservation. I met people all over the world and we shared so much about conservation.”
The chief executive of Nature Seychelles said that Cousin has been labelled by Birdlife International and others as “one of the world’s great conservation success stories.”
“In fact, the success is not only about saving some of the rarest birds in the world but also includes successful long-term conservation of all kinds of biodiversity including marine ones, “ said Shah.
|Christine Le Roux, the first participant of the Conservation Boot Camp programme learning how to do beach profiling. ( Yan Coquet ) Photo License: CC-BY
Why is such a project necessary in Seychelles? Shah said, “I have always thought that we, as a country, need to look at new ways of funding and ways of marketing Seychelles. Being a conservation success story among the many doom and gloom stories all over the world gives us a comparative advantage,”
He added that establishing a new and change-making type of capacity building programme shows that Seychelles can be innovative despite its size.
Since Nature Seychelles is a registered private educational and training institution, a certificate of participation will be given to each participant.