Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hello from the new intern - Elena Wonneberger 

Time flies by so fast, almost a week passed since I arrived to beautiful Anse Intendance and the Wildlife Conservation & Rehabilitation Centre at the Banyan Tree Resort! 

After a first shock, coming from the cold and rainy Belgium where I currently do my master’s in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, to the hot and humid Seychelles, I quickly adapted to the new climate. Also the adaptation to this, for me, new country went quite quick as I was warmly welcomed by an amazing team and the two terrapins, Chichi and Ganji, that currently stay in the centre for their rehabilitation.

Elena trapping terrapins
On the first day of my two months internship I already caught two terrapins in the traps that are set out in the surrounding wetlands to monitor the populations. After measuring, weighting and releasing them back in their natural habitat the traps are set out again.

Unfortunately I’m late for the sea turtles, their nesting season is just over. But luckily I can nevertheless do something for them! I am going to map their preferred nesting sites and relate this to environmental parameters, like vegetation, and I will also look how the lights can impact nesting sea turtles and hatchlings.

I’m excited for what the next two months will bring and looking forward to all the new experiences!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Attack On Invasives!

The conservation team at Banyan Tree has been going mercilessly at the terribly invasive water hyacinths which are sometimes even known as the World’s Worst Water Weed. From morning till afternoon the team undergoes endless grappling, tugging and shoving at these invasive plants into large bin bags. Despite the large beads of sweat on our foreheads and the mud and dirt staining our shirts, we are proud to boast our efforts in tackling and conquering a record of 80 bags of water hyacinths out of the pond. Certainly, the journey of eradicating these water hyacinths has only just begun. With a group of simply three of our staff and one honored volunteer; Paul Starkey, we take on this challenge once every week (Usually on Thursdays).
Water hyacinth mats are capable of attaining incredibly high plant density and biomass. A single hectare (10000 meter square) can contain more than 360 metric tons (360000Kg) of plant biomass! Water hyacinths are considered an exasperating weed in over 50 countries. They cause several problems including;
- The increase of evapotranspiration well above that of open water (often over 3 times “open pan” evaporation) thus causing significant water loss in the pond/ wetland.
-The formation of dense floating mats that cover large areas of water surface - thus excluding light, and air. This then affects animals (including fish) and plants that live and grow below the water surface; the area of a water hyacinth mat can double over several days when conditions of water and temperature are optimal.

-The serious mechanical impacts on river flows caused by the dense mats of biomass; thus in turn affecting the circulation of water, nutrients and gases such as oxygen.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

An amazing encounter...

On their way back from lunch Alessia and Rebecca bumped into a beautiful creature the Seychelles Wolf snake (Lycognathophis seychellensis) in the middle of the road and saved it from getting crush by cars passing. This beautiful creature is on our list of animals we can see around the wetland at Anse Intendance (Banyan Tree Resort) but we rarely see it. 

They are also endemic in the Seychelles and are listed as endangered in the IUCN red list, so please refrain from killing them to extinction. Adults may attain 1 m in total length, with a tail 31 cm long!

The main threats they face is habitat loss and habitat fragmentation, there have been cases of people often killing this snake without realizing that they are completely harmless, in fact they actually move away rapidly when disturbed! 

Most people confuses the wolf snake with the House snake as a result of both snakes sharing the same creole name "Koulev".