Cousin Island Special Reserve
Cousin Island, Seychelles
MARINE PROTECTED AREA
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Cousin Island is a small (27 ha) granitic island of the Seychelles, lying 2 km SSW of Praslin. It is a nature reserve protected under Seychelles law as a Special Reserve and is run by Nature Seychelles, a national non-profit organization and Partner of BirdLife International .
Until 1968, Cousin Island was a coconut plantation that had been stripped of most of its native vegetation. The Seychelles Warbler had become almost extinct, with a population of only 26 birds. BirdLife International, at the time known as the ICBP, bought the island and removed young coconut trees, thus allowing the native vegetation and fauna to flourish. The warbler population has since grown to 3000 birds, and has been saved from extinction. Another nearly extinct endemic bird, the Seychelles Magpie Robin, has been re-introduced to Cousin by Nature Seychelles. The island is also known for a very large population of lizards, Aldabra Giant Tortoises, and is the single most important nesting site for hawksbill turtles in the Western Indian Ocean. It also hosts over 300,000 nesting seabirds of seven species.
Cousin island has a very popular ecotourism program. The island receives both international and local visitors every morning, Monday to Friday, and is closed on the weekends and public holidays. This programme has won several prizes including the Conde Nast ecotourism award and a Tourism for Tomorrow award.
Cousin is also known as a site for good practices in environmental management and has been the focus of many case studies in books and journals. It is a Demonstration Site for the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN) and an Important Bird Area (IBA) designated by BirdLife International. It is used by international research organisations and universities as a research base.
Cousin island is now linked to other privately owned islands that contain endemic biodiversity through the Island Conservation Centre on Praslin island, funded by a World Bank/Global Environment Facility project. The Centre aims to increase awareness of conservation efforts on Cousin and elsewhere through displays, educational programs and work with grass roots groups.
Coordinates: 4°19′S 55°39′E / 4.317°S 55.65°E / -4.317; 55.65
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