Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sarah-Jane enjoying MCSS

I have been interning with MCSS for 3 weeks now, and I have just one left. The amazing people (best bosses ever!) here have made the time fly by. The other interns are a lot of fun to work with and make the time both in the field and in the office entertaining. 

We do most of our work out in the field and every day is different. The project leaders keep us busy with the tasks needed to keep the different projects running.

I joined the Wildlife Conservation and Rehabilitation project at the Banyan Tree Resort and our main tasks so far have been beach patrols, bird surveys and terrapin trapping. The beach patrols are a really important part of the work we do here, especially during the Hawksbill sea turtles nesting season – September to March. We collect data on the nesting beaches and also ensure that tourists and locals don’t interfere with the turtles. The bird surveys and terrapin trapping projects provide data on their populations. The terrapins that are caught are weighed, measured, marked with some pretty nail varnish and added to an identification database. They are always released the same day. There is only one animal permanently at the centre – Chichi the black mud terrapin who was kept for too long as a pet and now cannot be rehabilitated. Chichi has his own converted hot tub home and is spoilt with lots of fish treats. 

We are also currently trying to raise funds to expand the rehabilitation project for giant tortoises that have been kept in captivity as pets.

The MCSS team is incredible and they are doing amazing work in the Seychelles for conservation. 
I hope that I get a chance to come back again one day!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Carmen at MCSS :)

Hey everyone,

My name is Carmen and I am currently studying biology at the University of Freiburg. The internship at the Banyan Tree Turtle & Terrapin Project was the perfect opportunity for me to get some field experience and to figure out if I want to specialize in conservation for my masters program.

During my past 4 weeks with MCSS, I have learned a lot about the flora and fauna of the Seychelles and the conservation in general. My main project was focused on trapping and tracking the two endemic terrapin species in the surrounding wetlands of Anse Intendance to collect as much information as we can about the critically endangered yellow bellied mud turtle and the black mud turtle so that we can protect them.

Another big project I was working on was the bird monitoring program. I was collecting data about the habitats of the different species of birds and where they prefer to nest. I also figured out some new tracks for the monitoring program with the other intern Nicola so that we get a better overview of the variety of the different habitats for birds on the Seychelles.
Picture 1: Night Heron

Furthermore, I had the chance to join on some beach patrols and check for nesting sea turtles or tracks. Unfortunately, as the nesting season has just started in September I did not see a nesting sea turtle but we already found two tracks of green turtles and another one of a Hawksbill. Yesterday, we had to relocate the nest of the green turtle because it was too close to the high tide line.

Picture 2: Nest Relocation
The day before, we went to do a presentation at the primary school in Pointe-Larue. It was lovely to see how interested the kids were in our conservation work and that they really enjoyed our visit and got involved with us. One of our most important goals of the Banyan Tree Turtle & Terrapin Project is to teach the kids awareness to save and protect the very unique environment in the Seychelles. It is forbidden by law to keep turtles as pets since 1994 but we still have some big issues with this as well as turtle poaching.

Unfortunately, today is my last day of work with MCSS and all that remains is for me to say thank you to all the other interns and staff members that I could be part of such a great team and that you made my stay the way it was. I felt very welcomed and I am more than happy that I made the decision to do my internship here. Thanks again to everyone for such an amazing time and I hope we will meet at some point again!


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Terrapin breeding with Nicola

Hey, my name is Nicola. I am a 25-year-old vet student from Austria and I am currently doing one of my final internships at the Rescue and Rehabilitation center at the banyan tree resort. 

At University I did the special education module for conservation medicine so this internship is the perfect opportunity for me to round off my knowledge. 

In the two weeks, I have been here I have already learned a lot about the different aspects of a conservation sector. Not only does MCSS take care of the animals, they also map out the habitats, check out possible threats to them and raise awareness within the local community. 

Yesterday a group of school kids visited the center and we talked to them about the wetlands, terrapins and sea turtles. After the presentations, we carried out bird monitoring and tried to show them how important conservation work is. 

One of the two species of terrapins you can find here, the Seychelles yellow belly mud turtle is an endemic species and is critically endangered. That's why I am currently working on a proposal to start a captive breeding program.
For the captive breeding program, I have to figure out what the terrapins need and how many individuals are necessary for successful reproduction. 
I am comparing them with other species to see how they have been bred, but it is difficult to develop a plan because so little is known about terrapins. But I'll figure it out as I go. 

What I like most about MCSS is that every volunteer gets their own project in their special field of interest and the staff always tries to work together and help where they can. 
Right from the start, I felt welcome here and I am looking forward to my next two weeks working with this great team! 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Spencer in the team

Hello all I am the new intern………. Spencer!

Over the next 9 weeks, I am set to willingly commit my mind body and soul to the Anse Forbans Community Conservation Project (AFCCP). As someone who is wholeheartedly passionate about wildlife and habitat preservation, this represents itself as an exciting opportunity to put into practice everything I have learnt through my academic endeavours; and to gain valuable hands-on experience.

As someone with a freshwater background, the opportunity to work in the wetlands of South Mahé is something that I am very keen to get stuck into. However; as I wish to broaden my areas of expertise, being able to work in the mangroves and coral reefs that surround Anse Forbans is one of the major factors of why I applied to MCSS and the AFCCP project.

The team here has been unbelievably friendly and welcoming. Finding the perfect balance between independent work and guidance whilst out in the field or working on new software back in the office. My somewhat short amount of time already spent here has flown by, and suddenly 9 weeks may feel like too short a time.

One team, one dream.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hello Beth!!

Hi all!

My name is Beth, I currently study Marine Biology at the University of Southampton so the Banyan Tree Turtle and Terrapin Project was the perfect place for me to get some field experience. Since joining MCSS last week, I feel like I am already a true member of the team, everyone has been so friendly and welcoming.

Picture 1: Beth and our terrapin Truck at the WCRC
During my first week, I have been carrying out bird surveys (my favourite bird so far is the Seychelles Blue Pigeon), sea turtle patrols, daily terrapin catches and talking to members of the public informing them about what goes on at the centre whilst making descriptive tags for the exhibition room. It has been a busy first week!

On my first day, we caught 6 terrapins in one catch! We brought them all back to the centre for a health check-up where we weighed and measured all individuals. We identified them using photo-identification (to discover their unique name) and discovered one had never been caught before! I had the privilege of giving him a name, after a lot of thought I went with Buzz.

Picture 2: Buzz 
Unfortunately it is not turtle nesting season but it is still vital to check all the beaches weekly for any signs of Hawksbill or Green turtles. I have learned a lot already about how to identify sea turtle tracks, find a nest and how to make sure she successfully lays her eggs and gets back into the ocean unharmed. I am gaining more independence in carrying out these tasks so my confidence is increasing daily. I can’t wait to see what the next 5 weeks will bring! 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Seasonal Report

The 2016-2017 nesting season has come to an end and we have already entered into the 2017-2018 nesting season, although at the moment it is very quiet  with no  Hawksbill turtles nesting so far, except for a few Green turtle tracks found over a month ago on the main nesting beaches.

For the 2016-2017  season, we recorded 370 emergence on the 14 monitored beaches, along with 164 nests.
MCSS also had the chance to encounter 40 nesting turtles, which is always very interesting and we get to collect some data on them; carapace length and width, check for any injuries or abnormalities, check if they have a tag number and also get good pictures of the left and right side of the face for identification. The best task though is to try and do an egg count as they are laying...this can be very tricky as sometimes you can have 3 or 4 egg coming out at the same time..and this happens fast, so the final count is always an approximate count.

The MCSS team is now looking forward for the peak of the nesting season for 2017-2018, new volunteers and interns will be coming in and they will be keeping an update of all the highlights of the season.
Other than that, we will soon be celebrating the Sea Turtle Festival Seychelles and the team is ready to participate in the March and spread sea turtle awareness in the country.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Droning Adventure!!

This week, the MCSS Banyan Tree team started their first droning adventure. 
Accessible satellite imagery of Google maps, GIS and Google earth is either outdated or holds insufficient image processing quality. As we wanted to analyze the current hydrological situation, habitat types, invasive plant species distribution and vegetation status of the wetland area at Anse Intendance, we had to create or own, high definition map of the study site Anse Intendance. 
Currently, drones are a cutting edge technology and are mainly used by civilians, media, engineers and researchers. Drone based imagery and video material is mostly used for aerial photography, mapping, surveillance, transport and filming. 
The application of drones opens new, cheap and quick research possibilities such as the surveillance of inaccessible areas and shy animals, the production of 3D maps and vegetation maps, the creation of digital surface or terrain models, anti-poaching controls, animal counts, sustainable land use management techniques and even for marine conservation measures. 

The Anse Intendance wetland was and will be mapped through a Phantom 4 pro drone which out-competes our old drones through an extremely long battery life of 20 minutes, an automatic mapping application which strongly facilitates the whole mapping progress, the automatic recording of GPS points and a camera which has a resolution of 20 megapixel. The drone was and will be flown at a height of 80 m and with a front\side picture overlap of 60/70 % respectively. The high resolution and quality of the acquired orthomosaic will allows us to define different habitat types and spot invasive plant species. This information is crucial for any restoration work which includes for example native plant nurseries and invasive species removal.