The World’s first Conservation Boot Camp

Nature Seychelles
Published: 26 February 2020
Last edited: 26 February 2020
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From May 2017 to September 2019, 72 young people from 23 different countries paid to participate in Nature Seychelles’ Conservation Boot Camp program. Designed to equip young people with real-life conservation skills, the program uses Cousin Island Special Reserve, Seychelles - a 50 year old conservation success - as a training laboratory. At the same time, the program acts as another sustainable funding mechanism for the protected area. It has been financially supported by GOS-UNDP-GEF Protected Area finance project from April 2016 to December 2019. The GEF project pays for a full time CBC Coordinator, some equipment and materials among other things.


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Coastal forest
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Protected area management planning
Science and research
Species management
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Other theme
Capacity development
Increasing temperatures
Ocean warming and acidification
Sea level rise
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of technical capacity
Sustainable development goals
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 3: Incentives reformed
Target 11: Protected areas
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
(I)NDC Submission


Show on Protected Planet


  1. Conservation has become an increasingly popular career choice for young people. But many organizations complain that young graduates don’t have the right attitude or the real-world skills to work in field-based conservation. Yet, there are not many places where you can get exposed quickly to both. This program tries to close this gap.
  2. The lack of sustainable and long-term finance mechanisms puts the conservation of key species and habitats in Cousin Island Reserve at risk.


  1. Young graduates from Seychelles and the world
  2. Nature Seychelles: additional funding mechanism & through the contribution of manpower for conservation of the MPA
  3. Seychelles through the conservation of biodiversity
  4. Tour operators who benefit from the MPA

How do the building blocks interact?

The Conservation Bootcamp - a paying program - was developed and piloted on Cousin Island Special Reserve with initial funding from the GEF. Placing agencies were contacted to recruit participants to the program. Media and marketing activities were conducted at both launch and implementation stages to publicise the program. As the program receives participants, their experiences were used to inform marketing.


72 young conservationists from 23 countries have received transferable conservation training, through learning by doing, in endangered species monitoring and censusing, ecotourism and protected area management. They have contributed 3840 volunteer hours to the conservation of Cousin Island, equivalent to 480 working days. 7 issues of the Conservation Boot Camp magazine have been published, with 1708 reads and 8453 impressions on, to share stories and personal impact from the participants. Marketing through paid social media ads, websites and through placing agents resulted in 190 people applying. 


Nature Seychelles

Late in 2018, I stumbled upon the Nature Seychelles website and decided to do the 1 month Conservation Boot Camp program.


The average day involved getting up early, having a cup of coffee and then out to do beach patrolling – looking for any signs or tracks of possible hawksbill or green turtles which might have come ashore to lay their eggs. Then back at base, make communal breakfast, head to the visitor shelter where we would assist in ecotourism. Other duties varied on some days, from doing sea bird breeding success monitoring, Seychelles magpie robin monitoring, beach profiling, invasive species control to name a few. On off time we would snorkel, relax on the beach or just socialize on the patio of the research centre.


The work was really physical; we were exhausted the first week, but thereafter, we got used to the fast paced-long hours and the humidity of the Seychelles. Of course it helps that the setting is the gorgeous Cousin Island.


We were a small group -- from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, UK and South Africa -- which made the experience much more enjoyable and personal.


The staff were easy to get along with. I found it interesting chatting to wardens from Seychelles about their passions for their home and conservation. It was also insightful to interact with the Science Coordinator and CBC Coordinator.


Before doing the Program, I was working in middle management in nature conservation and protected area management in the South African Environmental Sector for the last 19+ years, so I initially thought it would be challenging to go back to do internship work.


I have learnt so much about myself in the process, in terms of being in a close social environment with new people and sharing your personal space, being able to work with people from different backgrounds, being able to get along with far less facilities, and being able to still learn new skills and have new ideas - even after being established in your career.


I honestly believe the skills and knowledge I have learnt with Nature Seychelles, will come in handy in my career, either back home or abroad.


I would definitely recommend anyone to go do the Conservation Boot Camp Program with Nature Seychelles! Whether you are fresh out of School, University, or settled in your career.


Louise de Roubaix, CBC Participant, South Africa

Contributed by

Nirmal Shah Nature Seychelles