Wildlife Vets International are supporting the development of the Turtle and Terrapin Rehabilitation Facility. They are including our project in their wildlife vet development project in Seychelles and Mauritius which was mainly focused on birds so expanding to turtles and terrapins is a good move!
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.
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!
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!