Volun­teering Seychelles North Island - Sybille

Sybille volunteered for species conservation on North Island, Seychelles, and talks about her experiences in her report.



Name: Sybille

Age: 58

Project: Species conservation on North Island

Duration: 3.5 weeks

In the summer of 2021, I made the decision to apply as a volunteer. It had to be in Africa, and it had to be a wildlife conservation project. So, in my search on the internet, I quickly came across Natucate and their commitment to species conservation around the world. The decision was quickly made, species conservation in paradise, possible with Natucate.

From the first contact to the end of my project, I was fantastically supported and cared for. My great thanks go to Daniel, the founder of the organization, and to Meghan Krato, who was my direct contact person. She alleviated many of my fears and rejoiced with me, even over small steps in preparation.

My unforgettable trip to North Island

Shortly before departure, my documents were reviewed and checked by the organization. So I left with peace of mind. I knew that my preparations were complete, flight, hotel, entry form along with invitation, everything was safe. Even from Frankfurt Airport, I called Meghan and was greeted in Mahé by Richard, the local driver. He also took me to the port. Thus, I didn't have to worry about the berth of the "Elle", Richard knew it.

During my stay on North Island, Meghan couldn't reach me immediately and was already worried, but fortunately, completely unnecessary. I was touched by the concern for my happiness to be in paradise. Upon my return, I also called Meghan again. She made sure that I arrived home well, healthy, and filled with fantastic impressions of North Island. Unfortunately, I felt that my everyday life had captured me again much too quickly. But the memories, the pictures, the friendship with Rebecca from America, no one can take this experience away from me. I just close my eyes and off to the Seychelles, to North Island, to the sea turtles! The hardest part for me was having to put on shoes again after 4 weeks of freedom.


Rescue of the sea turtle in the Seychelles

Our day began with a beach patrol. Our task was to search the beaches for fresh tracks of turtles and find out whether they had just sighted the terrain, had already dug a nest, or had even come to lay their eggs. We then informed Angelin, but often he already knew, as he was out on patrol almost every night on the beach for the turtles.

Always with him: a bag to collect rubbish from the sea on the beach. This was then weighed, sorted and reported online to the nature conservation organisation to compile annual statistics from all the world's oceans. Over the course of the project, we travelled over 100 km and collected almost 50 kg of waste, including 136 plastic bottles and 47 shoes. When I left North Island, I had the good, reassuring feeling that I had left something meaningful and sustainable for my ecological footprint. The traveller's advice to be a good walker is essential, as there are also strenuous, rocky stretches of beach. After breakfast, we set off for the next section of the beach with the same mission. During the morning, the fresh nests were located using GPS, registered using the continuous nest count, and relocated to a crab-safe breeding site.

Often towards evening, at dusk, the release of the young was organised in the presence of guests. For this purpose, the nests were prepared to avoid waiting times for the guests, and in some cases, e.g. on long or stony paths from the nest towards the water, gullies were dug as paths for the young. Here too, Angelin Sander's care and attention were unbeatable and his handling of the guests was impressive. He patiently answered questions and willingly provided information about the turtles' way of life and his work. There is a photo board in the volunteer house with really good tips and information about life on the island and a weekly plan of activities for the project. It includes, for example, maintenance in the greenhouse and planting greenery. However, this did not happen at all. Snorkeling with evaluation and monitoring was also included. I had my equipment with me. But this part of the task did not take place either. There was probably no one in charge. With 20 kg of possible luggage, 3 unused kg were a tiny bit annoying.


But the time we were able to spend with and for the sea turtles is and remains priceless, indescribable, and unforgettable. We owe this not least to Angelin, the local representative. He familiarised us with our tasks and explained everything with the patience of an angel (the difference between green turtles and hawksbill turtles, how long it takes to return, mother animals, nest building, egg laying, breeding, and release into the ocean). The love and dedication with which Angelin carries out his work and reports on it is marvelous. We were very lucky to have had him at our side as a mentor. If we couldn't ride our bikes in the pouring rain, he took us to the beach in a buggy. He picked us up at night so that he could show us nest building and egg laying live. We owed a lot to his commitment and learned so much. Angelin loves what he does and doesn't look at the clock or the day of the week, which is by no means a given in my world! He made us forget our everyday lives and enjoy nature to the full. Extra thanks to Angelin for that too.

There were also some strenuous activities in our daily routine. Once a week, as a team-building measure, the managers were also asked to help keep the island tidy and clean. For example, the staff beach was cleared of organic rubbish (coconuts, palm fronds) and at other times the paths in the staff village were swept. But the most unpopular was the arrival of the supply boat. After unloading, the goods were taken to a hermetically sealed room. Our job consisted of slitting open the packaging film (we needed to use a rattling knife) to ensure that no rats or other vermin were introduced. This created vast quantities of plastic gauze. A sweaty, unpleasant hour, but absolutely necessary.


Comfortable volunteer house on North Island: an oasis of relaxation and community

The volunteer house is located a bit off from the staff village. It is the only inhabited stone house. But for sure, we were the only staff members who were allowed to have air conditioning in their house. We used it frequently and were both very grateful for its presence because we were not accustomed to the particularly hot afternoons or the immensely hot nights, which simply didn't bring any relief. The house is designed for 4 residents. It has 2 bedrooms with 2 beds each. We had single occupancy and therefore each had our privacy, a very much appreciated aspect!

Above each bed was a mosquito net, so bringing your own is unnecessary. The house also contains a refrigerator and a water dispenser (12 L). Upon request, the organization takes care of exchanging the tank. The travel information included a note that there was no/limited internet available. From my perspective, this information can be omitted. I had obtained credit from the recommended company Cable & Wireless and couldn't use it (incompatible). This was not necessary at all since a constant good internet connection was available. Besides, it's advised to refrain from posting.


There is a covered terrace with a table and chairs and a great outdoor shower. The existing clothes horse was in constant use, a very important and welcome accessory! Furthermore, each volunteer had a robust bike that was in daily use. They could do with a mechanic with an oil can and new pedals. We completed the tours with our team leader in a relaxed manner in the golf buggy. Whether on foot, on the bike, or in the buggy, as soon as we met a staff member, we were greeted with a cheerful "Hello" or small talk, like long-time family members - a great feeling of belonging!

The volunteer's equipment includes a uniform consisting of 3 T-shirts, 3 shorts, and headgear. The sizing was not ideal. 3 T-shirts are very tight, as we were often lying in the sand (digging up eggs), surprised by the rain, but also always had to have a clean shirt available for meetings with guests from the villas. But we also benefited from the laundry service. Drop it off in the morning, and get it back fresh in the evening! There were plenty of washing machines and tumble dryers available free of charge for private washing. All you need is detergent, which can be purchased in the shop. So you don't need clothes for four weeks


Islands Coffee: A place of community and culinary diversity

"Islands Coffee" is the meeting point for meals. The preliminary information regarding fish, chicken, and rice was very accurate. They were always the main components for lunch and dinner, but by no means as monotonous as it sounds. One of the dishes was always (extremely) spicy, one European-friendly mild. Each meal is served buffet-style by the kitchen staff. This also creates a great sense of family cohesion here. For breakfast, as a European, I found Nutella, toast, and coffee from the machine, and my day was perfect. In the morning, there were also yogurt and apples, raw vegetables such as cucumber, tomato, and cabbage. Some variety/richness would be desirable.

The island shop opens 4 times a week for an hour. You have a fixed appointment in all that free time! The sale of alcohol is limited but sufficient for an after-work beer. The selection is great, after all, everything has to be transported to the island. This also applies to the food in the kitchen. Thus, there is understanding for the meal plan. A very special thank you goes to the staff, whether workers or managers. We were always welcomed here with a smile and kind words. This is just a fantastic feeling of life that is far too short in my everyday life at home.

I would like to thank you once again for the wonderful, unforgettable time at the project on North Island!

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