Volunteering Seychelles Cousin Island – Nils
Volunteering in the Seychelles: Nils went to magnificent Cousin Island to support nature and species conservation measures as a volunteer. In his feedback you can learn more about his time
Project: Species Conservation on Cousin Island/Seychelles
Location: Cousin Island
Duration: Beginning until mid-September 2019 – 2 weeks
Support from the Natucate team:
Volunteering in the Seychelles – Feedback: Eight questions for Nils
1) Could you give us a short overview of your tasks in the project?
Monitoring of breeding success of seabirds (Lesser and Brown Noddys), Seychelles Magpie-Robin Monitoring, removal of invasive plant species, assisting in performing tourist tours, skink counting, turtle counting, seabird counting, beach patrols, data input
2) What were the biggest challenges for you during the project?
At the beginning: dealing with the extremely basic kitchen and sanitary facilities, coping with the flood of information at the beginning of the project. The longer you are part of the project, however, you get used to the circumstances, and in addition, the activities on the island quickly change from theoretical to practical.
3) Was there something you liked most? Or something you remember particularly negatively?
The "Seabird Census" at night was particularly interesting: together with an island supervisor (called "Warden") I was assigned to an area on the island with difficult terrain where we had to – while focusing on accurate climbing – search every niche and cave for birds and collect data about them. It was very exciting to experience this actually familiar environment again at night from a different perspective and to put physical abilities to the test.
4) Did you have certain expectations before you travelled to the project?
I was hoping to gain basic knowledge of the work of conservationists and researchers and to get to know an ecosystem that was completely new to me. I was also curious about the extent to which the data we would collect as volunteers would be used by the researchers and staff on site and was hoping that our work would have a real benefit for species and nature conservation. Ultimately, these expectations were fully met. The programme coordinator Yan and the wardens team also gave us a deeper insight into the work of conservationists. Another extra for us: several PhD students from England were on the island to study the behaviour of the Seychelles warbler for their PhD thesis. Thus, I was able to get some interesting impressions from this field of research. I was also very pleased to hear that the data we collected during our stay were treated in same way as the data collected by the wardens and were not used as "second-class" material only in a limited or meaningful way.
5) Have you done anything in your free time that you can recommend to future participants?
You should definitely consider going on a snorkelling excursion, as the underwater world of the island's beaches (especially the one on the south-east side) is incredibly rich in species and also offers some great surprises that can be experienced in crystal clear water together with the other volunteers. Otherwise, a small "photo trip" around the island is also a good idea, as filling the memory card of your camera is often not that easy during the week and you will most likely be quite exhausted from the work on the island. On the weekend you will then have the opportunity to immerse yourself into this little paradise and to take wonderful photos.
6) What recommendations would you give to other participants?
Especially volunteers coming to the island all by themselves might be worried about the team spirit and finding friends. A concern that I dealt with as well – but I quickly noticed that there was absolutely no reason to worry. The wardens and the programme coordinator make sure that volunteers and wardens become a well-functioning, fun team so they arrange joint barbecues or game evenings or suggest team activities. If you are open-minded and leave behind all the travel stress from the beginning, you'll automatically be become a part of the team. Stay positive!
7) Can you estimate how many additional costs you had on site?
For my two-week stay I spent about 100€ for food. An overnight stay in the guesthouse costs 40€. A local SIM card which is absolutely recommended for a longer stay costs approx. 7€ and a simple data package with 150MB for one week only approx. 3€.
8) Here is still room for other suggestions or stories from you:
Tourists’ reactions when learning that you support a volunteer project on Cousin Island will continuously show you how lucky you are to be able to live and work on Cousin Island. You will hear words like "paradise", "luck", "beautiful" and the phrase "I'd love to do that too!" quite often!back:
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