Volunteer Abroad Seychelles: Cousin Island Conservation
Participating in this special volunteer project allows you to actively contribute to nature and wildlife conservation on the magnificent Seychelles island of Cousin.
As a volunteer in this species conservation programme, established in 2017, you receive essential conservation knowledge due to your involvement in various projects and tasks, and acquire valuable skills in implementing research methods and conservation measures. Together with your team of international volunteers and instructed by long-term experienced conservationists you dedicate yourself to endangered sea turtle and seabird monitoring, take part in wildlife censuses, support important restoration activities and, in this way, contribute to protecting and preserving the island’s pristine flora and fauna.
- Live and work on Cousin Island, a true island paradise
- Become active in real nature and wildlife conservation
- Help protect endangered turtle and sea bird species
- Support conserving Cousin Island’s natural flora
- Be part of an international team
- Experience the biodiversity of the breathtaking Seychelles archipelago
Plan your trip
Included in the programme fee
- Placement in the programme
- Assistance with travel arrangements
- Assistance with selecting travel insurance
- Assistance with booking flights
- Pre-departure information pack
Chrissy, your travel agent for Seychelles
You are interested in joining this adventure? I am happy to help you! From the first steps until the end of the trip – I answer all of your questions and support you throughout your time abroad.
Voluntary work in the Seychelles
As a participant in our project on Cousin Island you actively contribute to nature and wildlife conservation in the Seychelles and, at the same time, experience the fascinating biodiversity of a true island paradise.
Arrival and orientation on Cousin Island
The project usually starts on the first Monday of the month. We advise you to book your flight straight to Praslin. Please make sure to arrive the weekend (Sunday) before the project starts and book a room near Grand Anse, Praslin. The project’s programme coordinator picks you up on Monday morning at a certain meeting point and takes you to the harbour of the island. There you will go on a boat that takes you straight to Cousin. After your arrival on Cousin, you can meet the team, familiarize yourself with your accommodation and the area and get an introduction to the project’s work and goals.
Volunteer activities during the conservation project
Your volunteer tasks focus on protecting endangered sea turtles and sea birds, particularly by intense monitoring activities. In general, your tasks are dependent on the season.
Turtle nest monitoring takes place from September to March. It is the intense part of the year as patrols need to be done six times a day all around the island. This means noting down all turtle tracks, observing them on land until they lay eggs and leave the island, measuring the animals’ carapace and counting eggs when possible, identifying each stage of nesting, tagging if the turtle is untagged and marking the nest site. At the end of a patrol unit the data needs to be entered in the computer database.
Sea bird monitoring takes place from February to October. Sea birds can provide us with valuable information regarding the health and status of marine ecosystems. Data, gathered through population and/or chick censuses, can help to identify certain changes which necessitate the development of certain conservation measures.
Removing invasive plants, performing wildlife censuses for other animal species, cleaning the beach, helping with beach-profiling and supporting maintenance work on the island are further volunteer tasks among your involvement in seabird and turtle monitoring. Moreover, you gain an insight into ecotourism by interacting with tourist groups while they are waiting for their guide to start the tour. You will also have the opportunity to lead a guided tour seconded by a warden if your instructors feel that you are ready for this adventure.
Accommodation during the volunteer project
You are accommodated in a field house together with other volunteers. The house has three rooms (with single beds and bunk beds), a bathroom, a kitchen, a living room and a patio. The toilet stands next to the house; it is an ecofriendly long-drop/pit toilet instead of a western style toilet. Each volunteer is responsible for their cooking and laundry (handwash). In order to be able to contact friends and family at home, you should bring your cellphone and purchase a sim card on Praslin or Mahé. This way you can make national and international calls and, if you top it up, use the internet as well.
Leisure time as a conservation volunteer
Weekends and evenings are usually off. Leisure time activities take place mainly out in the open. The island offers the opportunity to relax at the beach or to go on nature trips. Cousin’s fascinating underwater world is ideal for snorkeling – so don’t forget to bring along your snorkel equipment and take part in organized group snorkeling sessions. Another favorite volunteer activity is star-gazing after dinner as the night sky above the island is simply magnificent.
Arrival in the Seychelles
Your stay in the species conservation project: A typical volunteer day
Last day in the Cousin Island project and departure
“I had only one, real expectation: to experience a great, instructive and unforgettable time – and that was definitely fulfilled!”
“To me, the overall island feeling was beyond words and with it the “isolation from the outside”, animals and nature were unique.”
“My expectations have definitely been exceeded. I will never forget my time on North Island.”
“I mostly loved the views, anywhere I looked, it was beautiful.”
1. Cousin Island
Cousin Island is a 27 hectare island in the Seychelles Archipelago, west of Praslin and a major retreat for endemic species of animals and plants. Like many places in the Seychelles, Cousin Island was severely damaged by coconut cultivation, which continued until the 1970s. However, since the island and the surrounding waters were declared a nature reserve a few decades ago, intensive efforts have been made to restore the original ecosystem.
Today, Cousin Island is home to a variety of species and habitats. The forests and wetlands are home to numerous species of insects, birds, reptiles and amphibians, which you will certainly encounter yourself during your time in the project.
Purpose of the Cousin Island volunteer project
The Seychelles archipelago is home to a variety of endemic and unusual animal and plant species. Coconut plantations up to the 1970s had a serious impact on the natural environment and put native species under pressure.
In 1968 Cousin was bought by the International Council for Bird Preservation in order to protect the last tiny population of the Seychelles Warbler, a near extinct endemic bird species. In the mid-70s the island and its surrounding waters were declared a special reserve. Since that time, intense efforts have been implemented to restore the island’s original flora. In order to finance these renaturation measures, the responsible nature conservation organisations are combining nature conservation with ecotourism.
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