The visitor must be small on this "special reserve" that is Cousin (which is next to... Cousine!). Here, no smoking, no picnics and no flash photography. Not even to collect shells. In order not to disturb the serenity of the residents, the visits are obligatory guided. Emerging as the crow flies less than 3 km from Grand'Anse (south of Praslin), this large rock 800 m long and 300 m wide has become a first class 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 donations from all over the world (the chocolate magnate Cadbury having financed two thirds of the purchase), it was indeed the refuge of a then endangered species, 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) whose objective is to preserve biodiversity. Cousin has become one of the three major bird sanctuaries in the Seychelles, with some 500 permanent pairs (compared to 26 in 1968), and in April-May, the island is a vast nest, with some 300,000 seabirds. So be careful! The reserve's boats, which you must use to disembark (for a fee of 600 SR per adult and 300 SR per child), will drop you off on the island from Tuesday to Friday only, with mosquito repellent that you should remember to take with you (if not, the guards will provide you with some). The naturalist visitors are invited by the manager or one of his guides to respect the typically Seychellois flora and fauna of this land of refuge, whose main tenants are the brown noddi and the white gygis. From the fairy tern (symbol of Air Seychelles) to the turtle-dove to the straw-tailed, passing by the song magpie, the toc-toc, the frigate bird, the blue pigeon and the moorhen, one can observe in this kingdom of feathers about twenty species of birds (of which six are sedentary), the rarest ones being ringed. Not even a rat or an owl to worry this little winged world watched over by five ornithologists. Crabs and geckos have also found a safe territory here, which is still home to the largest millipede on the planet. The highest density of lizards in the world can also be found here. About fifteen land turtles are also among the residents, including the oldest turtle, George, who is said to be over 150 years old. The 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. Cousin is the most important nesting place for this turtle in the western Indian Ocean and is the only granite island that has been completely restored with native vegetation. Crossing a forest particularly rich in turtle wood (whose fruits are very attractive to turtles), a path leads to the top (69 m) of the morne from where the view plunges on Praslin and Cousin. But it is soon time to return to the virginal beach, where you can quench your thirst, and from where you will be taken back to the excursion boat anchored off shore for a return trip with a lot of images in your head.

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