December 10, 2014

Seychelles Conservation Volunteer Diary #3

This is the third blog of a series of emails written by Seychelles conservation volunteer, John Francis, in North Island. John Francis started volunteering with Wildlife ACT in South Africa in 2009, the first year our organisation began. Since then he's volunteered with us in Zululand every year, which in total is six times.So when Wildlife ACT started a project on North Island in the Seychelles, it was only fitting that we asked John if he'd be our first volunteer and test the waters. This series of blogs are emails sent by John Francis to his family while he was working as a Seychelles conservation volunteer with Wildlife ACT.[caption id="attachment_8828" align="alignleft" width="4272"]

Hawksbill Turtle - Seychelles conservation volunteer

Hawksbill Turtle.[/caption]Greetings from the Seychelles! The Kayak I am using has a glass bottom to it so you can see the fish and coral underneath as you are paddling along which enhances the whole experience. I usually have a swim afterwards just to chill out. It's all very therapeutic. I'm loving being a Seychelles conservation volunteer.[caption id="attachment_8829" align="alignleft" width="4272"]

Kayaks on North Island, Seychelles conservation volunteer

Kayaks on North Island.[/caption]I have been doing some tortoise research today as so little is known about their behaviour. You would think that they are easy to find because they are about 2/3 ft long and 2/2.5 ft wide and about 1.5/2ft high and move very slowly. However, in the midday sun they sleep under bushes and shady trees and I spent an hour searching only to find four.They all have a number on the back of their shell which I record as well as what they are doing (well it is a honeymoon destination!!) and what they are eating. Their location is also recorded using a Garmin. They are not restricted to the flat ground but go off to the wetland areas and up hill into the fruit forest where they eat the fallen fruit.[caption id="attachment_8830" align="alignleft" width="4272"]

Tortoise on North Island, Seychelles conservation volunteer

Tortoise on North Island.[/caption][caption id="attachment_8831" align="alignleft" width="4272"]

Number on the back of their shell - Seychelles conservation volunteer

Number on the back of their shell.[/caption]There was a major panic because the water supply throughout this Island suddenly stopped. It turned out that a coconut tree had fallen on top of the generator just as a VIP guest arrived by helicopter. Not a good start. The guest PR department invited them to plant a tree. They decided to plant 14 trees one for each member of their close family so there was suddenly a lot of digging going on!Apparently many famous celebs have stayed on the island. I can say no more because I have signed a confidentiality agreement. There is a variety of jobs to be done here as a Seychelles conservation volunteer, none too taxing. I have carried out a land survey to produce a plan showing the latest area to be cleared of coconut trees and other Alien Invasive Species.[caption id="attachment_8832" align="alignleft" width="4272"]

Searching for Tropic Bird nests - Seychelles conservation volunteer

Searching for Tropical Birds nests.[/caption][caption id="attachment_8833" align="alignleft" width="4272"]

Alien Invasive Species - Lantana - Seychelles conservation volunteer

Alien Invasive Species - Lantana.[/caption]No measuring tapes and survey poles, but just a walk around the boundary using a Garmin. The information collected by every Seychelles conservation volunteer is fed straight into a computer and an instant plan is produced. The whole exercise takes less than one hour!Last night we had a braai and disco for the staff in the Maintenance and Environment departments which was an opportunity for them to let their hair down and have a good laugh. I was pleased to be included.Sunday is my day off as a Seychelles conservation volunteer but I am enjoying the daily beach patrol looking for turtle nests and walking in the fruit forest to collect food for the baby turtles so much that I decided to work this morning. I also took my camera to record just how beautiful it is here.[caption id="attachment_8834" align="alignleft" width="4272"]

Beach time on North Island, Seychelles conservation volunteer

Beach time on North Island.[/caption][caption id="attachment_8835" align="alignleft" width="4272"]

Staff camp on North Island Seychelles conservation volunteer

Staff camp on North Island. (Photos: John Francis)[/caption]Well I am now off to the beach for a swim and Kayak to cool down a bit. Best wishes to everyone.John.

North Island in the Seychelles was awarded as the National Geographic World Legacy Awards winner for Conserving the Natural World 2017. Our volunteer program allows you to come and join the environmental team on the ground and help them carry out important conservation work.

Volunteer Button