The mornings of 17 and 18 August 2021, started off with lots of chirping in the air. But this was a different kind of chirp from the one we are accustomed to on Cousin Island. It was the excited chatter of children from three public schools on Praslin eager to learn about birds and corals, and how Nature Seychelles is helping both to recover and thrive.
Athina Antoine made a presentation on coral reef restoration
Nature Seychelles' staff made up of Dailus Laurence, the Chief Warden on Cousin Island, the Reef Rescuers team of Dr. Luca Saponari, Roshni Yathiraj and Athina Antoine, accompanied by Bram Oosterbeek, a Seychelles warbler field researcher, visited the schools to talk about the strange life of the Seychelles warbler, and about corals and the restoration work being conducted within the Special Reserve. Dailus gave a presentation on Cousin and the warbler, while Athina spoke about the coral restoration work in the marine protected area. A total of 50 children participated from Grand Anse and Baie St. Anne (BSA) Primary Schools, and Grand Anse Secondary School.
"The presentations were very motivating and inspiring. Pupils demonstrated great interest in both speakers' presentations and videos. They are now more aware of the importance of protecting coral reefs and their use as a habitat in the ocean for different species. It is crucial for all of us to join in to give a helping hand to protect and save our coral reefs," said Miss Karen Latulipe from BSA school.
"Kids are naturally curious, which makes them little scientists. They are pure and passionate about the world around them. As they learn about nature and conservation, they also build up their empathy and they value caring for others and the planet," said Dr. Luca Saponari who leads the Reef Rescuers team.
The Egg is a children's science book based on the Seychelles warbler
The highlight of the talks was the presentation of a children's science book called, "The Egg." Authored by Prof. Hannah L Dugdale, an evolutionary biologist who studies these birds on Cousin Island as part of the Seychelles Warbler Group, and acclaimed illustrator Sylvia van Ommen, it is a picture and short-text book that illustrates the life of a Seychelles warbler, from just before it hatches from its egg, and following it as it grows up. Narrated by the bird in the egg, we see how it learns to fly, feed itself and fend off a predatory lizard. The authors donated over 200 copies of the books to Nature Seychelles. Each school received 50 for their libraries. The book was funded by a grant from the UK's National Environment Research Council.
Cousin Island was bought to save the Seychelles Warbler, which was once on the brink of extinction. Extensive research, restoration and conservation activities helped the warbler populations thrive and they have been relocated to 4 other islands in Seychelles.
Bram Oosterbeek a Seychelles warbler field researcher shows a copy of the book to a student
"Cousin has been at the forefront of conservation in Seychelles and education and awareness programs are a priority for us as they get people of different ages and backgrounds to understand why it is important to protect the environment and what we can do to be able to tackle the problems that threaten it," says Dailus.
We would like to thank the following teachers and the schools for their support of this outreach: Miss Latulipe, BSA, Miss Lina Lasperance, Grand Anse Praslin Primary School, and Sir Michael Antoine, Miss Rose-Marie Barra, and Miss Emma Charles from Grand Anse Secondary School.