“An island where nature thrives and man is a silent observer,” is how Cousine describes itself.
If the Seychelles has a name for conservation-minded tourism, Cousine Island was one of the first to lead the way. The 64-acre island is recognized internationally as one of the most ecologically important private islands in the world. It is a bird paradise, free of alien mammals, with all but five percent of the vegetation endemic, and Hawksbill and green turtles are regular visitors.
Since it began, the island has repositioned itself as an exclusive private island for the use of one family or group at a time. The four exclusive villas near the water’s edge, while done in the old French Colonial style and luxurious, have attempted to keep human impact to a minimum. The island, which looks across to Cousin, Praslin and Aride islands, is limited to 12 adults and six children at a time.
Most recently it has added a Presidential Villa, a full 625 square metres, with two en-suite master bedrooms with dressing rooms, a spa, gym, study and a dining room big enough for the island’s guests. There are other amenities, including an environmentally friendly 14 seat solar catamaran available at any time.
Forming part of the Seychelles’ unusual granitic archipelago, islands like Cousine came under severe pressure over the past two centuries, caused mostly by activities such as coconut farming, with the result that many species disappeared.
In 1992 Cousine was bought and turned into a nature preserve, its management style focusing strictly on conservation. Many species have returned, even the giant Aldabra turtle, and the island’s conservation work is so respected that it also assists national and international groups. Numerous other islands have followed its example, creating high-end small resorts that help pay for an island its on to turn back the environmental clock.
Cousine created a trust to fund all the island’s conservation projects, of which there are at least 64 in progress. It was also involved in the construction and management of the Island Conservation Center on neighboring Praslin island. This center promotes environmental visits to the region and provides a focus for all environmental and ecological work in the area.
Guests are encouraged to participate in the conservation work, be it through the simple but important act of planting a tree from Cousine’s nursery of indigenous species or assisting the resident ecologists to monitor critically endangered turtles and land birds. Even if guests choose to not get involved, they are still supporting the conservation and restoration programs by simply being on Cousine.
To minimize its impact, the island has rainwater catchment, some solar power, and it removes non-biodegradable waste from its shores to Mahé and Praslin.
In Their Own Words
As far back as 1994, Cousine declared its mission was:
“To promote and practice nature conservation and the wise use of natural resources of the island and its surroundings and to share this philosophy with our guests. We believe that ecotourism is not about sitting and watching but rather it should involve direct and tangible benefits to the environment.”