As a student currently completing a Bacherlor’s degree in Environmental Sciences at the University of Seychelles, it is required that I attain work-based experience as part of the University programme. With my passion for conservation, I joined the Island Conservation Society’s (ICS) team on Silhouette Island for a month-long internship from mid-July.
It was the experience of a lifetime! I would not only put into practice what I had learned at university but would now acquire new skills. The first week of work was quite exhausting as I had never worked full-time in conservation, but as the second week rolled in, the morning routines and daily patrols began to feel like clockwork.
Although daily monitoring is consistent, like each sunrise is a bold, new experience, such was my experience during the daily monitoring on each day - fresh and adventurous. I quickly became agile in the regular, and vigorous hikes across the island. Each hike would be fresh new learning of our amazing endemic plants on Silhouette. I felt more than lucky to sight the sheath-tailed bats, (Coleura seychellensis) a critically endangered species found only on Mahe and Silhouette as their only habitat in the world. They roost in quiet caves, that only catch glimpse of sunlight throughout the day. The experience beguiled me to fall in love with conservation even more.
I was struck at how the island community is devoted and willing to protect the environment. On the journey to Grand Barbe, the hardest trail on the island, which is a 12km walk to the other side of the island, I was in wonderment to meet a couple in their 80s, Abdul Jumaye and Elvire Dubois, residing there. I was amazed that they chose to live in such isolation, secluded in the quiet life, in the company of the wondrous flora and fauna of the surrounding forest. They still live in a wooden A-frame house, a solid remnant of the last ones of the old village that used to exist at Grand Barbe, surrounded by breadfruit trees, typical to Silhouette’s history. Of course, being residents of over 30 years I had just met a treasure of stories. I sat down with them, mesmerised by stories I would never read from any book and anecdotes about how life used to be when the village existed. Of course, they would proudly account on how they can still walk, at their age for three good hours to La Passe and how they can still catch fish and octopus for their dinners.
A short and sweet month working alongside the ICS rangers, who were more than ready to teach all they could, I quickly learned how to collect and enter data and the long-term monitoring techniques that come along with it. After a month-long exposure, I can proudly say that my knowledge of flora and fauna species has deepened.
I had many highlights during this short experience but the honour of assisting in feeding a small baby Blue Pigeon (Alectroenas pulcherrimus), that had fallen out of her nest is one I would remember always. We named the distressed Blue Pigeon, Teroline. That was a cherishable moment.
Maryssa Samedi, UniSey intern
One of our the conservation staff of ICS, Dillys Pouponeau, has produced a short documentary on Silhouette. The Seychelles Broadcasting Cooperation will broadcast the short documentary on of its TV station, SBC 1.
ICS values the diverse pool of talents present across the islands and will continue to encourage creativity and innovation in the workplace. Well done, Dillys! Our gratitude goes to to SeyCCAT, SBC and all who has participated in the documentary.
ICS Ranger, Saïd Harryba, took part in a short video for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) StoryWorks Programme in partnership with the Seychelles Tourism Board. The StoryWorks media programme promotes stories on various themes to inspire curious minds across the globe, especially during the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Said joined ICS as a Conservation Ranger in 2016 based at Silhouette Island Conservation Centre. He was promoted to the post of Assistant Conservation Officer in 2020.
BBC StoryWorks is the content studio of BBC Global News. It works to create beautifully crafted stories that inspire people across the globe.
The BBC video may be viewed at this link.
The Island Conservation Society team on Silhouette has successfully grown and propagated Wright's Gardenia, thought to have been eradicated from the island by the clearance of land for agriculture and other human development following colonisation. However, the plant survived on Aride Special Reserve – an island which is ecologically managed by ICS.
Wright’s Gardenia Rothmannia annae or Bwa Sitron in Creole, is one of the most beautiful endemic trees in the Seychelles and has heavily scented flowers.
More details of about this and other plants of Aride can be found on the Aride Island website
The full news article may be read here.
Supporting young local conservation talent as part of SYAH Seychelles' Blue Economy Internship Programme!
It was a pleasure for us to host Stana Mousbe on Silhouette Island as part of her experience on SYAH- Seychelles' Blue Economy Internship Programme.
The SIDS Youth AIMS Hub (SYAH) Seychelles - which is a youth-led NGO promoting sustainable development through youth-led projects - launched the Blue Economy Internship Programme initiative in 2016. This initiative serves to promote sustainable development opportunities for young people in the Blue Economy, by exposing them to opportunities within the existing framework. The programme enables Seychellois youth aged between 15 - 30 years old to undertake a two-week internship in different local organizations that fall within the Blue Economy sector. The programme introduces youth from all types of backgrounds to the myriad of career opportunities offered by the Blue Economy, and is open to youth from Mahe, Praslin and La Digue.
The programme is now in its fourth year. ICS Seychelles has participated in all four iterations of the programme and is keen to support local conservationist talent wherever we can. Check out Stana's short vlog detailing what she got up to with our staffing team!