FACT SHEET 2008 GENERAL MEDIA INFORMATION Name: Cousine Island Status: Private Nature Reserve & Conservation Island Location: Seychelles Situated 6km off the West coast of Praslin and close to the island of Cousin lays this natural paradise. The island is 25 hectares (62 acres) in size; approximately 1.4km in length, 800m in width and is 100% dedicated to the preservation of the Seychelles environment. The vegetation consists of 95% endemic plants and is home to more than 5 species of endemic land birds and 7 species of endemic seabirds – the remaining 5% of vegetation is made up of indigenous fruit trees and vegetable plants. Migratory birds consider Cousine home during 6 months of the year. Hawksbill Turtles come ashore to nest and Green Turtles, rare to the Seychelles, nest occasionally throughout the year. Cousine Island is one of the islands in the Seychelles to be completely free of alien mammals. GPS Coordinates: 4 Deg 20 Mins 55.73 South 53 Deg 38 Mins 53.24 East Mission: “To promote and practice nature conservation and the wise use of natural resources of the island and its surroundings and to share this philosophy with guests” Opened: April 2000 Island & Hotel Manager: Mr Jock Henwood Staff: 16 in total including island and conservation staff Star rating: 5 star Website: www.cousineisland.com Cousine Island, Seychelles Fact Sheet 2008 Accommodation: 4 Luxury Villas, 30 metres from the beach, each with magnificent views over the Indian Ocean. Architecture, Design & Villas: The architecture of all buildings is French Colonial to commemorate the heritage of the Seychelles and to blend in with the traditional designs. Only four individual Villas were built to ensure comfort and maximum privacy for guests and to reduce the impact of man on the island. Each Villa has a floor space of 175m² which allows for spacious and tastefully decorated rooms fitted with comfortable furnishings and appliances. The majority of the building materials used was sourced locally. Occupancy: Each Villa can accommodate 2 persons. 2 out of 4 Villas can accommodate 1 extra person. Full island occupancy is 10 persons. Dining: The Island has one airy dining area which is located in the main building called The Pavillion and overlooks the freshwater swimming pool, the Indian Ocean and the islands of Praslin, Cousin and Aride. Cousine Island’s chefs prepare meals to order to satisfy each guest’s individual taste. Typical Creole cuisine can be sampled here but dishes with Eastern and European influences are also available. All ingredients are sourced locally, supporting the local community, thus ensuring the freshest ingredients, allowing for a first class Creole experience! Head Chef: Adriaan van Niekerk (South African) Assistant Chef: Jerina Magnan (Seychellois) Conservation & Ecology: Cousine Island has always been a uniquely valuable haven to the flora and fauna of the Seychelles. The island has escaped the introduction of alien mammals and as a result, the delicate web of endemic bird life and supporting flora and fauna has remained intact. The island has been privately owned for 14 years and has been transformed into a private nature reserve through a systematic rehabilitation programme, replanting of endemic trees and plants and the establishment of colonies of Seychelles endemic birds. Cousine is one of the only islands in the Seychelles archipelago which is totally free of alien mammals. Hawksbill and Green turtles nest on Cousine’s shores, with approximately 14,000 Hawksbill Turtle hatchlings being released per breeding season (Nov-Mar). In order to protect the delicate ecosystem, Cousine Island prefers guests to arrive by helicopter thus ensuring against the introduction of any alien species. The guests share the island with its natural inhabitants, offering some of the closest encounters with nature in the Seychelles. Aim: To preserve and protect the endemic flora and fauna for future generations. Sustainability: By staying on Cousine Island the guests contribute to the funding needed to secure its future. All funds raised by Cousine Island Trust are used to run the island. The guests’ information pack states that “tourism development is the only revenue generating activity purely to ensure the long-term sustainability of conservation.” Activities & facilities: Bird watching: Cousine Island has a variety of Seychelles endemic birds, including the Seychelles Magpie Robin and the recently introduced endangered Seychelles White-eye. Walks: Various paths around the island and into the forest and hill areas are outlaid on the island map in each villa. Guided walks with the Island Ecologists are available but walks can also be enjoyed alone. Conservation programmes: Guests are encouraged to take part in the various conservation programmes and activities that are running on the island e.g.: - Tree planting - Turtle monitoring - Ringing and feeding of Magpie Robins - Monitoring the White-eye, released in Summer 2007 Snorkelling: Guided snorkelling is available, equipment is complimentary from the office and guests can also explore on their own. Swimming pool: Located at The Pavillion, the pool is filled with freshwater. Library: The library has a selection of reference books as well as novels, DVDs, Videos and CDs. The library is open for guests to use at any time during the day. Organised water sports: Diving and fishing can be arranged on request. Excursions: Excursions by boat to other islands are available and can be arranged on request. Internet: Broadband access is currently available in the library but will soon be available in the Villas. There is also wireless connection access on various parts of the island. Spa: Ligne St Barth Spa treatments are offered in the Beach House Wellness Retreat. Gym: The gym is located in the Beach House and guests may use this facility complimentary. Beach: Cousine Island’s beach stretches from the most Northern point of the island to the most Southern tip of the island. Another beach forms during the North West Monsoon winds and is referred to as ‘Honeymoon Beach’ due to its seclusion. Spa & Gym: The Beach House Wellness Retreat is a thatched building housing the spa and gym. The Beach House was one of the first buildings on the island during the 70’s and housed the management of the coconut plantation, the original structure remains today. The Spa has an inside and outside treatment areas where guests are pampered with the exclusive spa product range of Ligne St Barth www.lignestbarth.com. Fitness equipment includes a multi-gym, rowing machine, sit-up bench, stair master, treadmill, individual weights, yoga mats and gym balls. GENERAL ECOLOGICAL INFORMATION AND SPECIES LIST Cousine Island is situated 6km off the West coast of Praslin and close to the island of Cousin. The island is 25 hectares (62 acres) in size, approximately 1.4km long and 400m wide. Although small in size, Cousine Island plays an important role in the conservation of the Seychelles. It is the only island of its size entirely free of alien mammals which is a key factor in protecting the island’s biodiversity. FLORA The lowland forests of Pisonia Grandis and Pandanas Balfouri have been destroyed on many granitic islands, however they still flourish and dominate the islands of Cousine, Aride and Cousin. FAUNA Birds Cousine Island is one of the few islands with nesting seabird colonies of 7 species. The Lesser Noddy, the most prolific breeding species (62,000 breeding pairs), is a subspecies found only in parts of the Western Indian Ocean. Furthermore, 3 naturally occurring land birds - Seychelles Blue Pigeon, Seychelles Sunbird and Seychelles Fody (Tok-tok) can be spotted on the island. 2 endemic and equally important land birds were introduced to Cousine Island over a decade ago - the Seychelles Warbler and the Seychelles Magpie Robin, one of the world’s rarest birds whose population was diminished to just 20 individuals in 1990. The world population is now at about 160 and is steadily growing. These bird species can be found on 4 granitic islands Aride, Cousin, Cousine and Fregate. Cousine Island currently has a population of 39. The introduction of the Seychelles Magpie Robin and Seychelles White-eye… In October 1995, three Seychelles Magpie Robins (2 males and a female) were brought to Cousine by helicopter. The following year, a further 2 females and a male were relocated to Cousine from Fregate Island and a third female was brought from Cousin by boat. Cousine has also become home to the Seychelles White-Eye, another endangered species on the verge of extinction. As part of the introduction phase in 2007, a forest of endemic fruit trees was planted to provide essential food for this species. A study has been put in place to measure the stress levels of the current inhabitant – the Seychelles Warbler, as to provide an insight into behavioural changes pre and post introduction of similar species to the island. Reptiles Reptilian fauna on Cousine includes 6 Seychelles-endemic reptiles. The Wright’s Skink and the Bronze Gecko, which is often seen lounging in the bar area in the early evening, are considered important in conservation due to their restricted distribution. Hawksbill, Green Turtle and Giant Tortoise Cousine Island provides nesting beaches for hawksbill and green turtles - both internationally important as species in need of protection. The island has a population of 20 giant land tortoises, the majority of which have been rescued from captivity and now roam freely across the island. 2 types of giant land tortoises are present here - the Aldabra Giant Tortoise and 1 Seychelles Land Tortoise. The latter is an extremely rare species thought to be extinct, however DNA testing has confirmed its presence on the island. Cousine is also a feeding area for the endemic Seychelles fruit bat. 200 - 400 bats feed on the wild fruits such as wild fig from October to April. Breeding Seasons Turtle breeding season starts in September with just a few turtles laying their first batch of eggs. The number of turtles increases month on month with the most emergences in October, November, December and January. Hatching occurs after 54 to 64 days and the best time to view turtle hatchlings emerging from the nest is from the middle to end of December until the middle of February. The Lesser Noddy breeding season runs from May to July/August. During this time approximately 62,000 pairs build nests in the endemic trees, each female laying a single egg. The seabird Fairy Tern, which is the only tern that is totally white, searches for an indent or a fork in a branch to lay their egg. The chick hatches on the branch and stays there until fledging. Ongoing Conservation The management of Cousine Island are constantly searching for opportunities to introduce new endemic species to the island. Before the introduction of any new species is considered, extensive research is undertaken to investigate the long term effects to the island and the existing species. Lots of time is also invested into ensuring that alien plant life does not overpower the exiting flora and that more space is created for endemic plants. WATER, WASTE AND POWER The Island stores 350,000 litres of water. Most of the rainwater is collected from roofs and stored in 10,000 litre tanks. The water then goes through a sediment and UV filter which kills all bacteria making this water safe for drinking. Bottled mineral water is also available. All waste that is accumulated on Cousine is sorted into glass, metal, cardboard/paper and food waste. The food waste is used to produce rich compost for the vegetable garden where a small selection of vegetables and herbs are grown. The paper, cardboard and plastic waste is burnt in a controlled environment as there is no recycling plant in the Seychelles. The metal and glass is taken off Cousine Island to Praslin where it is disposed of. All the power to the island is supplied by 3 x 60kw diesel generator. 20,000 litres of diesel is brought to the island by barge every 3 to 4 months and then pumped into 4 x 10,000 litres diesel storage tanks. Solar power is used in the villas to assist the electric water heaters and to conserve the electricity where possible. Key People on Cousine Island Island & Hotel Manager – Jock Henwood Jock Henwood came to Cousine Island in April 2002 and took up the position of Manager. Jock’s role is to ensure guests have a seamless experience on this paradise island, whilst also working closely with the Ecologist to gain a real understanding of the important conservation work which is carried out and forms a crucial part of the guest experience. Jock spent his childhood immersed in the hospitality industry as his parents owned and ran two hotels in South Africa. He decided to study Hotel Management when he finished school and then trained at both the Hilton Durban and also the Mount Nelson in Cape Town. Marketing & Reservations Manager - Janine Samuel Janine Samuel came to Cousine Island in May 2003 and joined as Marketing Manager. Janine always wanted to work within the travel industry and so after school, she went on to study Travel and Tourism, completing her in-service training at the Kwabhekitunga Lodge (a traditional Zulu village in Zululand). She also worked at the Tradewinds Hotel followed by the Canefields Country House in South Africa before coming to the Seychelles. Janine also assists with reservations and guests relations, ensuring that every guest has a highly personalised and memorable experience on the island. Conservation Officer – Kevin Jolliffe Kevin Jolliffe arrived on Cousine Island in February 2007 followed by his wife, San-Marie, in March both coming from Pietermaritzburg in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. They are both experienced conservationists with a passion for the wildlife of Africa. Kevin has a distinct interest in Orchids and birds and he is currently writing a book on the Orchids of Natal. Kevin and San-Marie have been interested in nature from an early age and they spent many years either visiting wildlife reserves or working on them during holidays. Both studied and met at the Nature Conservation and Cape Tech and went on to work together at the Ndumo Game Reserve on the border of Kwazulu Natal and Mozambique with KZN-Wildlife (formerly Natal Parks Board) as well as Mondi Forestry in the North Eastern Cape, running an Environmental Education Centre and managing the rehabilitation of wetlands in the area. They also spent time in Swaziland managing the conservation of a safari company; at Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve in the Cedarberg on the West Coast of South Africa and managing a small lodge and conservation area in the Hoedspruit area of the Limpopo Province.