Cousin Island Special Reserve in Seychelles managed by Nature Seychelles is “one of the world’s great conservation success stories.” It is no ordinary island.
Cousin conservation history began in 1959 when Dr. J. H. Crook visited Cousin in 1959. His discovery that the Seychelles Warbler population which was confined to Cousin had been reduced to less than 30 birds prompted him to recommend turning the island into a nature reserve. Cousin at the time had been cleared of its native vegetation and planted wall to wall with coconuts. Pigs, chickens and cattle had been introduced. An annual crop of up to 6,000 Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus pacificus, Fouke in Creole) chicks were taken for food.By the early 1960’s the island yielded only 13 tons of copra annually. About 4,000 fouke, tobacco, salted fish, turtles, pigs and poultry were still taken off the island every year.In 1968 after 7 years of discussions the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP), now BirdLife International, purchased the island for what seems like petty cash today – 16,452 GBP. Soon after, the Seychelles Government designated the island as a Nature Reserve under the Wild Animals and Birds Protection Act and in 1975, Cousin was designated a Special Reserve. This included the marine area up to 400m beyond the High Water Mark. (Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles Chief Executive, Zwazo 26, Adding Value: Replacing Coconuts with Conservation)
It has taken 40 years of hard work to transform this former coconut plantation into the thriving nature reserve it is today. This video by www.liammartinfilm.com, highlights Cousin’s history and conservation successes.