World Wetlands Day 2008 -- Seychelles

06/02/2008

CLASSROOM IN THE WETLAND

Last week, an enthusiastic group of Nature Seychelles and Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles Members turned out to commemorate the World Wetlands Day. The occasion was used to launch the soft opening of the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman, which is expected to be officially opened on Earth Day in April.

Highly engaging and fun-filled activities spiced the learning on Wetland conservation. Members were led through interactive presentations about the roles and importance of a wetland, the ecosystem, and how people in the world depend on wetlands for their livelihoods. They were also enlightened about the restoration work taking place at the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman.

This year's theme ran under the banner "Healthy Wetlands, Healthy people" as highlighted buy RAMSAR, the international convention on conservation of wetlands. Presentations and discussions coupled by a gallery exhibition at the Education and Environment Centre filled the day's programme.

Members exchanged ideas about the theme using the RAMSAR materials and found out that although Seychelles does not entirely depend on wetlands for survival they do have indirect impacts to the general Seychellois community. These include the availability of fresh water, leisure, flood control, and provision of nutrients to the coral reefs among others. Such benefits generally contribute to the provision of our food sources notably fish.

Using the "outdoor classroom" concept developed by Nature Seychelles Members split into groups to enjoy some wetlands educational activities provided at the Sanctuary. These included pond dipping on the purposely built deck which turned out to be one of the more favourite activities for the day as members were excited to find out about underwater eco-systems.

The excitement of younger Members filled the air as mini-beasts like dragonfly nymph, water boatman, shrimp, water snail, the endemic killifish and many more were pulled up in the nets, observed and classed accordingly. Bird watching was another bustle of activity where they marveled at their first sight of some fascinating migratory birds such as the Northern pin-tail, the garganey, whimbrel, the grey-backed heron, moorhen and also some common land birds.

The newly-built bird hide also provided much excitement and information about frequently visiting birds at the Sanctuary and about common plants in the area. Finally the third group, which started its activity learning about the geology and vegetation of the Sanctuary's wetland, were also enthralled by the number of dragonflies and damselfly species that canoodle over the wetlands. The dragonfly watchers counted at least 10 of the 18 species found in the Seychelles. Some were even caught in sweep nets for closer and careful observation and to record their sightings before they were released again.

With the help of Nature Seychelles staff, Members made interesting observations during the activities and they were well versed with the issues at hand. That the wetlands activities captivated the young minds was rather obvious as they almost forgot that they had to head back home for the day. It was rather hard to get them off the site, but a promise that they will return later did the trick. And they too promised to come with their friends next time. Well, for World Wetlands Day, here in Seychelles, the wetland at Roche Caiman proved that its a real outdoor and action-oriented classroom. (ENDS)



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