Cousin is a small granite island belonging to the archipelago of Seychelles. It has an area of 34 ha and is located at about 2 kilometers to the west of Praslin. Cousin is regarded under Seychelles law as a special reserve and is also identified as an Important Bird Area. It is administered by Nature Seychelles which is a national non-profit organization.
Cousin is mostly covered by lush vegetation while being surrounded by a long sandy beach. Every morning, the island is open to visitors excluding weekends and public holidays. However, you can only access the island by the sea from Praslin.
Thanks to its natural beauties, the island is a very frequent tourist destination. Visitors mainly come to the island to spot the endemic birds and trees which are present in Cousin.
Initially, the island was a coconut plantation. It was being plundered of its vegetation and the endemic species living there started to disappear. Among the endemic species was the Seychelles warbler which went on the verge of extinction. In 1968, when the Seychelles warbler’s population was at 26 birds, the BirdLife International bought the island. Coconut trees were removed to allow the native vegetations to flourish on Cousin Island. As the native flora regenerated, the native fauna started to recover. Later in 1975, Cousin Island was declared a special reserve.
Flora and fauna
The Flora of Cousin Island includes Morinda Citrifolia, Pisonia grandis and Ochrosia oppositifolia trees which are found in abundance throughout the island. On the coast, you can find a lot of coconut palms and casuarinas equisetifolia trees.
Tall herbs and ferns, Pandanus balfourii, Ficus lutea, Ficus reflexa and Euphorbia pyrifolia shrubs grows in the southern part of Cousin.
The Fauna of the island includes several endemic species of Seychelles lizards, the geckos Phelsuma astriata, the skinks M Seychellensis and Pamelascincus gardineri, the freshwater turtle Pelusios subniger and giant Aldabra tortoises.
Cousin is a nesting site for green turtles and hawksbill turtles. Fortunately, there are no rats in the island. A species of hares was imported to the island namely the black-naped hare, commonly known as Indian hares.
Cousin island is the refuge of over 300 000 seabirds. There are large colonies which includes brown noddies and lesser noddies that come to the island from May to September. During the year, white tailed tropicbirds, Audubon’s shearwaters, white and bridled terns, striated herons and common moorhens come to Cousin Island to breed. Many great and lesser frigatebirds use Cousin for roosting.
The Seychelles fody are found in Cousin Island. The latter is only found in four island in the entire world, including Cousin. The island also hosts a small population of Seychelles magpie-robin, the Seychelles blue pigeon and the Seychelles sunbird which are all endemic to the Seychelles.
Cousin Island has been the focus of many International research organizations and universities. The ecotourism program of the island has won several prize such a Tourism for Tomorrow award and the Condé Nast ecotourism award.