It was a very hot afternoon but the scorching sun did not stop the shouts and pleas of a dynamic crowd that had responded to the call of the Seychelles Islands Foundation’s ‘Anti-Poaching March’, that took place recently at Baie Ste Anne, Praslin.
The march was among the first activities to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the inscription of the Vallée de Mai as a World Unesco Heritage Site and was aimed at sensitising the population about the importance of protecting the coco de mer.
It was led by the chief executive of the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF), Dr Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, alongside the Vallée De Mai’s site manager, Marc Jean-Baptiste.
Various organisations and schools joined the walk from the Eve Island playing field to the Marie Jeanne Estate beach front, with a tour inside the estate itself. Participants chanted as they walked in handmade coco de mer themed outfits, carrying slogans with anti-poaching messages.
Dr Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, stated that SIF was satisfied with the turnout, which included both schools and private organisations.
“We are particularly touched by the ambiance and how the island heard our plea. Too often we stay quiet about poaching, one of the main threats to our endemic coco de mer. Sometimes we are too reliant on the law only but let us remember that this is a shared activity and we each have a role to play,” said Dr Fleischer-Dogley.
Over recent years, although there is an observable decrease in poaching incidences in the Vallée de Mai, poaching remains one of the main threats to this valuable asset. So much so, that it still features on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species since 2007.
In 2020, with restrictions on movement imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, a total of 8 incidents were recorded with 47 nuts poached. The year 2021 saw 2 incidents yielding 6 nuts and last year 10 nuts went missing in 2 incidents. Until end of March 2023, no poaching incidents have been recorded.
“It is important to understand that protecting the coco de mer is the responsibility of everyone. At the end of the day, it is my coco de mer, your coco de mer and our coco de mer. So let us all give a helping hand to help fight coco de mer poaching,” she appealed to the participants.
It should be noted a panel of judges was also present to award the most creative and active team in the march. The Baie Ste Anne primary school scooped the first prize, followed by Berjaya Praslin Beach in second place and Grand Anse Praslin secondary school in third position. The other participants were representing Grand Anse primary school, Lemuria Resort, Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Farmer’s Association of Praslin, Baie Ste Anne Hospital, Seychelles Rescue and Fire Services Agency (SFRSA), Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority (SPGA), Nature Seychelles, Black Parrot Coffee, Seychelles Police, Vallée de Mai Team, Fond Ferdinand Team, National Sports Council (NSC), SIF Head Office, Citizens Engagement Platform (Ceps) and other individuals.
Courtesy: Nadia Bedier (Nation.sc)