Monday, September 17, 2018

Keeping busy at the Wildlife Conservation and Rehabilitation Centre

Jenny (left) and Kitty

I have just completed my first week as a volunteer at the Conservation Centre. Like Kitty, I am taking a gap year to expand my knowledge and experience of environmental issues and conservation. As the centre is surrounded by important wetland habitat, there are many long standing research projects monitoring the ecosystem here. This week I have assisted in monitoring terrapin populations, bird diversity and also water quality. I really enjoy the terrapin monitoring as we set out traps daily across the wetland and it’s always exciting when you check them and find more than just mud and leaves but also terrapins! I have learnt that the terrapins plastron pattern acts like our fingerprints, each one is unique and we are able to identify them from this and build up an understanding of the population here at the Banyan Tree. I think they are lucky to stay in such a protected and well maintained habitat, and on a 5 star resort!

The centre also rehabilitates other endemic species. Currently there are 6 giant tortoises in the back paddock, munching on leftover cabbages from the vegetable patch. They are huge, wrinkly and friendly, and relatively young at 40 years old as these tortoises can live to be over 200! After being kept as pets for a long time, it is hoped that once fully rehabilitated, they can be released back into the wild to live out their long lives. I really enjoy taking care of them here, they truly are gentle giants.

After a great first week, I am looking forward to what may be in store in the upcoming weeks here at the Centre.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Alexandra shares her experiences with MCSS

My name is Alexandra McCallum, I’m a 21 year old student from Canada and for the past four weeks I’ve been volunteering with MCSS to acquire a feel for the field of conservation biology. I spent my first two weeks in the North on the Coral Reef Restoration project at Fisherman’s Cove and then moved South to work on the Banyan Tree Terrapin project. Since having been at the Banyan Tree, I have been able to see many of the tasks at hand and got a feel for the work that is done here. I arrived in the South on a Monday afternoon, where I got to meet everyone working on the project and was shown around the facilities a bit. I then officially started on the Tuesday and already had a bunch to do on my first day, which I was very excited about! I went out with the team to check for terrapins in the traps located at different pond sites, as well as add bait to the traps. This is done in the morning and in the afternoon (at 9am and at 2:30pm). However, we did not find any terrapins that morning. Following the trapping, we joined Vanessa who was removing Water Hyacinths, an invasive plant species that take up vital living space for the terrapins.

pulling out the water hyacinths

This took us the rest of the morning as there were a lot to remove! After lunch, I went to go check out the Giant Tortoises, which are held in an enclosure behind the offices. They were extremely gentle and loved to be pet. One even tried to climb out of the water onto the rock I was sitting on just to get a bit of affection! At 2:30,we went out again to check the traps and found a terrapin!

cute baby terrapin!

 I was very excited to have gotten to see one on my first day as I did not expect this to be a common occurrence. Once back, I watched how Rebecca and Megan measured and tagged the terrapins and put them into the rehabilitation jacuzzis, where they stay until they are released back into their respective pond sites the next day. It was about 4pm by then so everyone started to gather their things and head home. 

turtle monitoring team

The following day, I came in expecting to do the exact same thing but in fact it was quite different. I went with Vanessa to do beach patrolling for turtle tracks and nests. 

beach patrol on Anse Grand Police
beach clean up!

We also brought garbage bags along to pick up trash along the beaches. We spotted green turtle tracks and a new nest that had been made the day before,it was really cool to see! One thing that really surprised me however was the amount of trash along the beach.We picked up 2 garbage bags full of flip flops, plastic bottles, glass and just waste left behind or brought in with the tide.We patrolled several beaches, including some surrounded by lush forests, and were all really beautiful. Once we got back, I shadowed Evita as she gave a tour to some of the hotel guests,so that I would also be able to give tours of the premises when needed. The next two weeks followed the same outline but remained really interesting. One day we even caught seven terrapins! Overall, this has been a great learning experience for me and I highly recommend taking part in these projects, as you are guaranteed to always find something to do!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Navin the terrapin trapping fanatic!

My name is Navin Venkateswaralu, I’m 15 years old.I have been volunteering with MCSS at the banyan tree hotel for two weeks for my work experience.
Invasive removal in the wetlands
 Management of the wetlands is very important and we have an invasive removal task, where having spare clothes is a must! Water hyacinths needs to be controlled as they can very quickly cover a whole pond and block sunlight which can make the water unhealthy.

At the rehabilitation center I mostly work with terrapins. I learnt about the two types of terrapins that are in Seychelles, which are the yellow bellied and the black mud terrapin. I really enjoy taking part in the terrapin trapping program. We usually go trapping twice a day, to go out on the field and check twenty traps for terrapins, then we measure the ones that we captured and mark them. Afterwards we release it in the same place that it was captured. This helps us get a good overview of the population and movements of the terrapin. Sometimes we also get the little babies in the traps!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Nadine and her turtles' action :)

Hi guys!
I am Nadine from Germany and I am currently doing an internship as part of my master’s degree in marine biology with MCSS in their terrapin and turtle monitoring program on the Seychelles.
I wanted to intern here so I could get hands-on experience on working with turtles and also to get to know the work that a conservation NGO does. Also, the Seychelles have been on my bucket list for some time now!
And so far, it’s been amazing! I get to experience new things every day and I even have the possibility to come up with my own project ideas that I can try out at work, such as waste patrolling and beach mapping.
My best experience so far was the release of Tiko, our hawksbill turtle. Formerly a pet, we had him in a tank for a few weeks for rehab and to prep him for the ocean. We snorkelled after him for a little while to make sure he was able to cope with the currents.

A few weeks ago, we also excavated the last nest of the sea turtle season – it took a while until we found it, it was burrowed pretty deep in the sand. There were about 200 eggshells and we can assume most of the little hatchlings made it safely out to the sea.
Also, I really enjoy taking part in the long-term terrapin trapping program. Each day, we go out and check the traps for terrapins, then we measure, mark and release them again. This helps us getting a good overview of the population and movements. Sometimes we also get babies! Two terrapins are long-term residents at the centre, Chichi and Seal – we keep them in old Jacuzzis that the Banyan Tree Resort donated to us. 

A couple of weeks ago, we got four new Aldabra giant tortoises from a guesthouse. We have six in total now, and they seem to get along really well. It’s funny to see how fast they can walk towards you if they are curious. They mostly feed on fruit and vegetables.

So, if you are interested in the wildlife and work we do at the centre, definitely come and pay us a visit while you are on the Seychelles! You will get a guided tour around our facilities and a lot of additional information.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Shanilla working hard

Hello, it has been almost one month now which has been just enough to get used to the working environment at the Wildlife Conservation and Rehabilitation Centre located at the Banyan Tree Resort. Everyone is so amazing here and I have enjoyed every single day, I have learned and done a lot which is a great experience.

I have helped with the sea turtle monitoring activities, beach profiling and with the daily care of Tiko, which is a juvenile hawksbill sea turtle in rehabilitation at the centre. My favourite activity is the fresh water turtles (terrapins) monitoring: I am involved in setting up the traps in the Intendance wetland and in checking them daily for any terrapins. Those that are found in our traps are brought at the centre, measured, weighted, identified, marked and then released in the same pond where they were found in.
There is so much ahead of me and I’m looking forward to new experiences in these next two months. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

My name is Cheyenne-Mae Chang-Yunn (but Cheyenne works just fine), I am a 20 year old local working with MCSS as a Field Research Assistant for The Banyan Tree Resort Project Team. 

I started on the 5th February 2018 and from then on have been assigned with mostly all the tasks carried out at the Wildlife & Rehabilitation Centre from terrapin and turtle monitoring to daily minor up keeping.

It has been just over 2 month sworking at the Centre which has been just enough to get used to the working environment and frame. 

The terrapin trapping sessions in the Intendance wetland has been put under my accountability whereby I now choose the sites of putting the traps each week, take responsibility of checking the traps, processing the terrapins caught and ensure their release and safekeeping. I have found sensation in carrying out this mission, since I have not worked with terrapins before yet hearing all about it and it has been added to the list of endemic species and sub-species of Seychelles that I have worked with.

Along with guest interaction, conducting tour guides in English and French around the centre and power point presentations, I also participate in conducting the ‘Adopt a Terrapin’ project with the guests and the wetland bird monitoring.

I have also gained the opportunity to work with one of my favorite animals - the sea turtles. I help with the monitoring activities on Anse Intendance, which is one of the most important nesting beach in the south of Mahe. I get the change to perform nest excavations, take measurements of the hatchlings (carapace length, weight, etc.) and simply observe them entering the water for the first time. 

Data recording is also part of my duties along with working on the Banyan Tree Wildlife description document and more. Additionally I have been involved in other projects such as beaches characterization and sea turtle monitoring on other beaches.

Learning something new every other day keeps the motivation high hence I am gaining more eagerness to keep on acquiring knowledge in my work and planning out research work both off and on field to smoothen my further studies in conservation work.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Saratha helping MCSS

Firstly to introduce myself, my name is Saratha Naiken. I’m 17 years old and I’m from the Seychelles Islands.

I’ve recently joined MCSS for a 2 months volunteer program.
My passion is to become either a Veterinarian or a Marine Biologist, therefore working at MCSS gives me the chance to experience varies activities such as: Sea Turtles monitoring, Freshwater turtles trapping, X-Ray observations, sand experiments etc…that I have taken part in which I find extremely useful and relevant for my future career choices.

During my first day of work at the MCSS I had the chance to encounter on the beach a critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtle that approached the shore to lay its eggs. I gained the knowledge of how and when approach a sea turtle, how to take measurements of its carapace and how to take pictures useful for photo identification. The turtle laid eggs too close to the high tide line that is why we had to relocate the nest in a safer place. 
Figure 1: Sea Turtle Nesting on Intendance beach

This was truly a beautiful and unforgettable moment I experienced in my life.

Working here at MCSS gives me the opportunity to seek new experience every single day and learn different facts and figures about the importance of the wildlife. 

Figure 2: Eggs to relocate
                                           I thank the entire MCSS team for supporting me and guiding me through all the daily tasks and I am truly proud to be part of this volunteer program and I hope to contribute in the future in the conservation of the wildlife and in the preservation of my country in general.