Volunteers are needed to join various marine and tropical wildlife conservation projects within the beautiful Nature Reserve on Cousin Island, in the Seychelles. These projects are aimed at conserving the natural environment of the island. Projects include: Hawksbill turtle monitoring and tagging, sea and land bird monitoring and ringing, habitat conservation and censuses of birds, tortoises, skinks and geckos.
You can join from 2 weeks and we have places available all year round.
Individuals and students all welcome.
Cost for accommodation in our shared volunteer house, materials & training starts at £670.
You will be working with a leading conservation NGO from the Seychelles with a global reputation for conservation and environmental protection. They have been instrumental in projects rescuing endangered species, such as the Seychelles warbler and Seychelles paradise flycatcher, and in habitat restoration. Its conservation expertise is enhanced by a strong science and monitoring programme and the work supports local people’s livelihoods and their communities.
Cousin Island Special Reserve
The Seychelles Island Conservation Volunteer "Boot Camp" Programme takes place the whole year on Cousin Island with the possibility to volunteer for 4 weeks. The tasks vary depending on what time of year you would be joining the programme. You could be engaged with:
There will also be data entry and organisation, as this is an integral part of all monitoring and survey work. Aside from this, you will be involved in the day-to-day running of the island such as maintaining the pathways, pumping water and helping the reserve wardens with boats during the weekdays when tourists come for guided tours. You will thus also be part of guiding tourists and tell them about the conservation work done on the island.
The normal working hours out of turtle season are from 5-7 hours daily during week days. During turtle season, it can reach 9 hours of work daily with one day off including weekends. You can spend a weekend off the island (at your own expense) if you volunteer outside turtle season. In-field training will be given for sensitive work such as seabird and turtle monitoring.
As an Island conservation volunteer in the Seychelles, you will be assigned a monthly project contributing to the improvement of the island management. This project will be agreed by the team, the programme coordinator, conservation officer and the chief warden. It can be related to waste management, energy consumption, logistic facilities, security improvement or even scientific contribution. The planning/research/set up/application/report will be finalised by the group of volunteers within the month, if possible. The work and results will be published online when completed. You will be awarded a Certificate of Completion at the end of your stay.
The Seychelles Island Conservation "Boot Camp" programme is located in a natural reserve, and thus volunteers need to act accordingly. There are rules to be followed on the island and not adhering to them might cut your stay short. Joining as a "boot camper" on this programme, you will be able to have a rare conservation experience on a remote island in the Indian Ocean, where endemic wildlife roam. Volunteers should thus have a strong motivation to join, and be willing to put in the effort required to do the work. You should be minimum 18 years and an independent person with the ability to work in hard conditions with a positive attitude. As you are required to do a team project, you should also have experience in team work.
1st October to 15th October 2018
1st October to 31st October 2018
2nd November to 19th November 2018
1st November to 30th November 2018
3rd December to 17th December 2018
3rd December to 3rd January 2019
4th January to 21st January 2019
4th January to 1st February 2019
4th February to 18th February 2019
4th February to 1st March 2019
4th March to 15th March2019
4th March to 29th March 2019
1st April to 12th April 2019
1st April to 26th April 2019
6th May to 17th May 2019
6th May to 31st May 2019
3rd June to 14th June 2019
3rd June to 28th June 2019
1st July to 12th July 2019
1st July to 26th July 2019
5th August to 16th August 2019
5th August to 30th August 2019
2nd September to 13th September 2019
2nd September to 27th September 2019
7th October to 21st October 2019
7th October to 1st November 2019
4th November to 18th November 2019
4th November to 29th November 2019
2nd December to 16th December 2019
2nd December to 3rd January 2020
The Seychelles Island Conservation Volunteer Programme takes place the whole year on Cousin Island with the possibility to volunteer for 2 or 4 weeks. You will start on the first Monday of the month and finish on the last Friday of the same month. As you would need to be ready and meet the local project manager on Monday morning in Praslin, you would need to arrive at least one day before and stay in either Mahé or Praslin to be able to arrive on time. Be aware that Mahé is another island, and you would need to get further transport from there to Praslin.
From October - December 2018, the project can be flexible with arrival/departure dates (+/- 3 days) to accommodate interested volunteers joining for the Sea Turtle nesting season, and volunteers can join for 3 weeks as well during these months only.
If you wish to mainly work with turtle conservation, the turtle season is from October to mid-March. Please be advised that from October-December, the arrival/departure dates can differ slighly from mentioned above, but you would still need to arrive at least one day before the given arrival date. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know when the particular activities take place during the year.
The costs for 2 weeks is £670, 3 weeks is £880 and 4 weeks is £1100. This cost includes accommodation (with water, electricity and gas), regular transport to and from Cousin Island for supplies, pick up and drop off at Grand Anse or Praslin airport, field equipment, training and supervision, as well as support from our partner organisation in the Seychelles and WorkingAbroad Projects. What’s not included is food, travel to and from Praslin Island, including international and domestic flights, health/travel insurance, and any personal expenses. Your own accommodation for the first night before starting on the programme is also not included in the price.
Accommodation and Food
You will live in the Cousin Island field centre, a basic field accommodation. Rooms are shared and there is a common kitchen, bathroom and large living room. There is no hot water nor flush toilets on the island. The island can be hot and humid and being a Special Reserve, no pesticides are allowed, so at certain times of the year there will be mosquitoes. The Seychellois Wardens who manage this Reserve live on the island next to the Field Station. There will be daily interactions with this group of young Seychellois who can share their experiences and culture with you. Transport to and from Cousin Island is by small boat and scheduled boat trips to Praslin island are made for shopping
Food is not included in the price and you would be responsible for your own cooking. You have weekly supplies at the nearest island, Praslin (small supermarket). The project's boats leave the island for supplies three times a week. The approximate cost for food and beverages for a month is around £180.
Drinking water (tap water supply from Praslin island) and other water use are included. There is no hot water on the island. Gas for cooking, coils and mosquito repellent, toilet paper, mosquito nets, and all kitchen utensils are provided.
Free time on the island can be used to relaxing, snorkelling, guided sessions of stargazing, going to the beach and doing yoga with a certified teacher. Please remember to bring your own gear for snorkelling. Once a month, the weekend may be available for travel off the island, depending on the work schedule and season.
It is recommended that volunteers bring their own mobile phone and obtain a pre-paid SIM card once in the Seychelles. This would provide volunteers a number and credit for both local and international calls. Volunteers are also responsible for their own internet access, which can be purchased in Grande Anse.
Flights and Travel
Volunteers should fly to Praslin Island / Grand Anse Airport, and plan to arrive on the day before the start of your programme. The programme starts on the first Monday of the month and ends on the last Friday. Thus you should arrive at least one day before, as you will meet with the project coordinator and other volunteers on Monday morning at 9 a.m, either at Praslin airport or in front of the MCB in Grande Anse, Praslin. From here the local project manager will come pick you up, and get you to your accommodation on Cousin Island. This means you would need to arrange your own accommodation in Praslin (or elsewhere) for your first night. We would be able to provide you a list of recommended guest houses.
It is advised to book your flight straight to Praslin (including the international and internal flight Mahé-Praslin). When you arrive in Mahé, you can either take a flight to Praslin or a 1 hour ferry. The flight is more convenient as you can go from the international terminal to the domestic terminal very easily. The ferry can be less expensive, however the ferry port is a taxi ride from the airport.
Volunteers will not need a visa to travel in the Seychelles, but a 40 days visitor’s permit will be allocated to the volunteer on our project partner's individual requests to the Seychelles Immigration office. To obtain this visitor’s permit, you will need to send us your flight details and a copy of your passport at least 2 weeks before your departure to the Seychelles. You will need to book your flight dates according to the programme dates (1-2 days before the starting date and after the ending date). If you want to extend your stay, you will have to go to the immigration office and change your flight dates once in the Seychelles. However, we cannot guarantee the approval of an extension request.
The Seychelles has 115 granite and coral islands that lie between 480km and 1,600km from the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Of these 115 islands, 41 of the Inner Islands constitute the oldest mid-oceanic granite islands on earth, while a further 74 form the five groups of low-lying coral atolls and reef islets that are the Outer Islands. Approximately 90,000 people live in the Seychelles, which has three official languages: Creole, English and French.
The weather usually never reaches the extremes of heat or cold. The temperature rarely drops below 24°C or rises above 32°C. A larger amount of the annual rainfall falls during the months of December to February compared to other months. The weather is hottest from December to April, where the humidity is also high. The months of May to October bring drier, cooler weather, and livelier seas.
Cousin Island Special Reserve
Our Island Conservation Programme takes place on Cousin Island Special Reserve, which has been a protected area for almost 50 years and is considered one of the world’s great conservation success stories. This small 27ha island has been designated as a Special Reserve and includes a marine reserve 400m radius around the island. It is a wildlife jewel. It has five endemic land birds including the Seychelles warbler and the Seychelles Magpie-robin and more than 300,000 seabirds from seven species nest here. It is home to giant land tortoises and possibly has the highest density of skinks in the world. Cousin Island is also the most important nesting site for Hawksbill turtles in the Western Indian Ocean and is host to the world’s longest running monitoring program for this species.
In 2002, it was the first reserve in Africa to be chosen to become part of the International Biodiversity Observation Year (IBOY). In 2003, it was the only site in Seychelles to be chosen by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in its Management Effectiveness study project of Marine Protected Areas. Cousin is a demonstration site of the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN). In 2004, it won the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler Ecotourism Award. Cousin has been the subject of several articles and case studies focusing on eco-tourism. In 2010 Cousin Island became the World’s First Carbon Neutral Nature Reserve.
This is what previous volunteers have to say about their time volunteering at the project on Cousin Island
After experiencing 8 islands, and having the opportunity to spend 4 weeks on Cousin, I can safely say this island is a favourite. For such a small island there is so much activity, so much to discover, so much to contribute to, and in return, you get so much back.
Sherani, Sri Lanka
Cousin Island Special Reserve is a place like no other, and promises to turn everyone into a storyteller. When I got the opportunity to leave a job I was jaded with, to live on an island with the highest densities of nesting hawksbill turtles in the Seychelles for two months, it was a no-brainer.
Both turtle monitoring and the seabird monitoring were incredibly educational experiences. Observing a turtle whilst she’s nesting is definitely one of the most special things I’ve seen, and I have developed a real fondness for the seabirds and their chicks whose progress we monitored in the weeks after they hatched. (Cousin) inspires in a completely positive way a desire to preserve nature and wildlife that goes beyond an intellectual understanding.
This experience of my conservation work while helping out Nature Seychelles has made me realize that I want to pursue a wildlife conservation career. The work is personally rewarding because I am contributing to long term conservation impact.
Coming to Cousin Island Special Reserve has been by far the grandest of my adventures in life so far. With the challenges brought by the island, time allows you to acclimatise just fine and the rewards infinitely outweigh any struggle you might face. During my stay I’ve seen more species of tropical fish and birds than I dare to count and I have also done extensive fieldwork in a setting most only dream of.
Kate, South Africa
I was astounded by the amount of diversity packed onto this small island, the sky full of birds and the ground crawling with skinks and tortoises. I was eager to get involved and what an experience it has been so far, our days filled with turtle patrols, monitoring, bird ringing and data entry.
Paige, South Africa
I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but you cannot fully understand this unique place until you are here. As I arrived I dropped my bags and was told to join the tour group for my first experience of the island. I had no idea so many mosquitoes were in one place! But then I saw my first White-tailed tropicbird, the mosquito bites became worth it. How amazing to see so many unique birds up close and to know I will only be learning and interacting with them more in the coming month.
I had visited the Seychelles three times before I came to Cousin and therefore thought I knew the country well. But this last trip showed me that I was wrong. In the last two months I discovered the Seychelles and its culture in a whole new way. Working and living with Seychellois on the island gave me a different view on the interesting Creole culture.
The island is really stunning, and it was amazing to be able to work in such a beautiful place. In between work, we swam a lot in the ocean, and went for a lot of walks around the forest and up on the cliffs. There’s something really special about this place, and I’m going to miss it, and the people and wildlife on it, an awful lot.
One day during my patrols, in the rain, I saw two tracks which led me to a big turtle of 92 cm. I counted the eggs while two other turtles emerged from the sea. I saw this turtle again two weeks later and recognized her right away. I confirmed by her tag that she was indeed the same turtle. What an unforgettable experience that was!
If you are interested in volunteering in the Seychelles, you will need to fill out the online application form (you can also print it out and send it to us by post) – to secure a placement on the project. Please complete and submit the form including your CV and your application payment of £195. If for some reason, your application is not accepted, we will reimburse this payment fully. However, for those who are accepted, you will be required to pay the final balance two months before arrival. Once you have been accepted on the programme, you will receive an Information Package with all detailed information on your project, the Seychelles, suggested items to bring etc.