Cousin Island is one of the first complete island and marine protected areas in the world. It is located 2 km off the coast of Praslin, the second largest island of the Seychelles.
This granitic island and the surrounding marine area were declared a nature reserve in 1968 by the International Council for the Protection of Birds (now BirdLife International) to protect the last tiny population of an almost extinct endemic bird species, the Seychelles warbler (Acrocephalus seychellensis). The entire island, including the 400 metres of water surrounding the island, was also declared a "special reserve" by the Seychelles government in 1975. Since 1998, the island has been managed by Nature Seychelles.
By the time the ICBP took over the island, most of the native habitat had been largely converted into a coconut and cinnamon plantation. The remaining population of the Seychelles Warbler was stuck in a mangrove swamp and did not provide an ideal habitat for the species.
In 1959, it was estimated that the Population the Seychelles Warbler, an endemic bird, comprised only 26 individuals, all confined to Cousin.
Soon, an intensive conservation programme was implemented: The coconuts were cut back so that the native forest of Pisionia grandis favoured by the Seychelles Warbler could thrive again. By 1982, the Seychelles Warbler population had reached about 320 adults, the maximum population Cousin could support. From here, the Seychelles Warbler was reintroduced to other islands in Seychelles to increase its population. The bird is now found on five other islands in Seychelles and numbers over 3000 individuals. The bird was reclassified from Red List 'Critically Endangered' to Critically Endangered in 2015 and is one of the biggest conservation success stories of recent times.
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