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Location Seychelles, Praslin
Central coordinates 55o 39.00' East  4o 20.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A4i, A4ii, A4iii
Area 26 ha
Altitude 0 - 70m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Nature Seychelles



Site description Cousine island is situated 5 km south-west of Praslin, 2 km from Cousin. The main part of the island is formed by a ridge of ancient granite rising to 70 m, overlooking a small coastal plateau on the eastern side, fringed by a 1 km long sandy beach. The rest of the island is surrounded by a rugged, rocky coastline. The hill is covered by closed-canopy woodland dominated by Ficus nautarum, F. reflexa and Pisonia grandis. The plateau retains small patches of this woodland, the remainder now being covered with scrub and grassland. The island was formerly exploited for coconuts (Cocos nucifera), planted extensively during the twentieth century, and for seabirds (mainly shearwaters). These activities were abandoned in the 1970s and coconuts are being progressively eliminated. A small orchard and garden has been kept for the few resident staff. The coral reefs around Cousine hold a rich marine life and some traditional fishing takes place. It has a helicopter pad and a small-scale, high class tourist facility.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. This IBA is one of only four major sites in Seychelles with populations of Copsychus sechellarum, (13 birds in 1999, from three pairs introduced in 1995), Acrocephalus sechellensis, (137 birds and 42 territories in 1997, from 29 birds introduced from Cousin in 1990) and Foudia sechellarum (450–670 birds in 1996). In addition, Nectarinia dussumieri, Alectroenas pulcherrima (tens) and Streptopelia picturata x rostrata (c.200 birds) also occur, of which some individuals show the characteristics of rostrata. Other landbirds include Gallinula chloropus (min. 84 birds), Butorides striatus (4–6 birds) and the exotic Geopelia striata and Foudia madagascariensis. Cousine is also important for breeding seabirds, with the large largest colony of Puffinus pacificus in Seychelles. In addition to those listed below, Puffinus lherminieri nicolae (hundreds of pairs), Anous stolidus (c.900 pairs) and Sterna anaethetus (c.50 pairs) also breed. Some 1,300 pairs of Gygis alba were present in July 1999 and it is thought that more than 5,000 pairs probably nest during the course of the year. Non-breeding Fregata ariel and F. minor occur regularly in mixed flocks. Numenius phaeopus and Arenaria interpres and, less frequently, Dromas ardeola can be found throughout the year along the coastline.

Non-bird biodiversity: Two species of skink endemic to Seychelles, Mabuya wrightii and M. seychellensis, occur at extremely high densities. Other abundant endemics include several species of geckos (Phelsuma spp. and Ailuronyx sp.) and invertebrates. A small population of the endemic snake Lycognathopis seychellensis also occurs. Hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata (CR) nest on the beach.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Wedge-tailed Shearwater Ardenna pacifica breeding  31,000 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus breeding  1999  440-850 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
Lesser Noddy Anous tenuirostris breeding  47,800-71,200 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Common White Tern Gygis alba breeding  5,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Seychelles Warbler Acrocephalus sechellensis resident  1999  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Seychelles Magpie-robin Copsychus sechellarum resident  1999  present  A1, A2  Endangered 
Seychelles Fody Foudia sechellarum resident  1999  present  A1, A2  Near Threatened 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Cousine island Nature Reserve 26 is identical to site 26  

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research -

References Copsey (1997), Copsey and Kraaijeveld (1997), Hitchins (1997), Kraaijeveld (1997), Le Maître (1997), Millett et al. (1999), Rocamora (1997b), Wright and Passmore (1999).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Cousine island. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/12/2014

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