Tropical islands around the world are losing much of their biodiversity. Cousine Island, Seychelles,is a remarkable example of recovery which runs countercurrent to this trend of tropical island impoverishment.
From a highly degraded island in the 1960s, Cousine Island is now a revitalized carpet of natural vegetation and a haven for nesting seabirds. All alien vertebrates have been eradicated, as have most of the invasive alien plants. Poaching of nesting marine turtles and shearwaters has stopped, leading to an increase in breeding numbers. The Sooty tern has returned to the Island to breed after an absence of 30 years. The coastal plain has been restored with indigenous trees, bringing back the historic forest type. Rats, mice and crazy ants, and other alien organisms, are kept off the Island by strict quarantine measures. Three threatened Seychelles endemic land birds (Seychelles warbler, Seychelles magpie robin and Seychelles white-eye) have been established and are breeding successfully. Overall, the Island restoration programme has improved the compositional, structural and functional biodiversity of the island. The coral reefs are also recovering after the mass coral bleaching event at the end of the last century. Cousine Island is thus paving the way in the craft and science of tropical island restoration as a legacy for future generations.
This book is about the recovery of Cousine Island and its natural history, told in much detail and with profuse illustration. It is for restoration ecologists,tropical ecologists, island enthusiasts, and for anyone interested in tropical island natural history.
Foreword by Sir James Mancham
- Cousine Island in a world context
- Cousine as a Seychelles island
- Cousine Island's conservation significance in a nutshell
- How humans nearly pushed Cousine past the tipping point
- The changing seasons
- The lie of the land
- Cousine's rocks, soils and sand
- The moody sea
- Cousine's green carpet
- Cousine's woody cloak
- Cousine's vegetation reprieve
- Sponges, corals and the great bleaching event
- Life in the shallow sea: from shells to urchins
- Between sea and land: a variety of crabs
- Ecological webmasters: terrestrial invertebrates
- A rich tapestry of fish life
- Cousine as a haven for turtles
- Of tortoises, lizards and snakes
- Overcoming the extinction of experience: sea bird haven
- Aquatic and shore birds
- A truly successful story: endemic land birds
- The welcome and the unwelcome: vagrant and alien birds
- Visiting mammals to Cousine
- Cousine Island in the world today, and its future
- Scientific summary
- List of species recorded on and around Cousine
Photographic and artwork credits
About the authors
Michael Samways is Professor and Chair of the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa.
Peter Hitchins was Cousine Island Manager 1995-2001, and Conservation Advisor to the Island 2002-2004.
Orty Bourquin was Conservation Consultant to Cousine Island during instigation of the Island's Management Plan.
Jock Henwood has been Cousine Island Manager, 2002-present.
This is an interesting, well-done, well-illustrated (numerous excellent color photographs) book should interest a wide audience including ecologists, conservationists, ecotourists, and readers interested in the natural history of tropical islands.
- CHOICE, January 2011