The visitor has to make himself small on this "special reserve" that is Cousin (who lives next door to... Cousin!). There's no smoking, no picnicking and no flash photography here. Not even collecting seashells. And in order not to disturb the serenity of the residents, the visits are necessarily guided. Emerging as the crow flies less than 3 km from Grand'Anse (south of Praslin), this large pebble, 800 m long and 300 m wide, has become a first-rate bird sanctuary, entirely dedicated to conservation. Previously occupied by a copra factory, the island was acquired in 1968 by the Royal Society for Nature Conservation, with the help of the World Wildlife Fund and thanks to donations from all over the world (the chocolate magnate Cadbury financed two-thirds of the purchase), the island was indeed the refuge of a species then in danger, the Seychelles warbler. Immediately classified as a nature reserve in order to save this species, Cousin is now managed by Nature Seychelles, a non-profit organization (part of the BirdLife International network) which aims to preserve biodiversity. Having become one of the three major bird reserves of Seychelles marine avifauna, Cousin now has some 500 permanent pairs (compared to 26 in 1968), and in April-May the island is only a vast nest, with some 300,000 seabirds.

Therefore, be careful! The boats of the reserve, which it is obligatory to borrow in order to disembark (for a fee), will drop you off on the island, from Tuesday to Friday only, with mosquito repellent that you will have to remember to take with you (otherwise the guards will provide you with some). Naturalist visitors are invited by the manager or one of his guides to respect the typical Seychelles flora and fauna of this land of asylum, whose main tenants are the brown noddy and the white gygis. From the fairy tern (symbol of Air Seychelles) to the dove-coco to the strawtail, via the song magpie, the toc-toc, the frigatebird, the blue pigeon and the water hen, one can observe in this feathered kingdom about twenty species of birds (including six sedentary ones), the rarest of which are banded. Not even a rat or an owl to worry about this little winged world watched over by five ornithologists. Crabs and geckos have also found safe territory here, which is still home to the largest centipede on the planet. It is, similarly, where you would find the highest density of lizards in the world. About 15 land turtles are also among the residents, along with Dean George, who is said to be over 150 years old. The hawksbill (hawksbill turtle) can sometimes be seen, but the sea turtle, more fearful than the land turtle, is quick to return to the sea unless it has just laid its eggs. The most important egg-laying site in the western Indian Ocean for this turtle, Cousin is also the only granite island that has been completely restored with native vegetation. Crossing a forest particularly rich in turtle wood (whose fruits are very popular with turtles), a path leads up to the summit (69 m) of the morne from where the view plunges down to Praslin and Cousin. But soon you have to return to the virgin beach, where you can quench your thirst, from where the Petit Mahé has to take you back to the excursion boat anchored offshore. The island is indeed surrounded by a coral reef which makes the landing quite perilous. One always leaves this endearing territory, where man is almost an intruder, so much so that the bird reigns supreme.

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