Seychelles News

Discovering environmental champions

By Marie-France Watson, 28th March 2024

Local environmental activists have been hailed as heroes by the winners of the latest D’Arros Experience Programme’s competition for youngsters.

Following their remarkable achievement of securing top scores in the 2023 edition of the annual competition organised by the Save Our Seas Foundation, 16 young environment enthusiasts are now set to embark on an enriching experience at a week-long environmental camp on D’Arros, one of the Outer Islands, next month.

The programme, which is run by the Save Our Seas Foundation D’Arros Research Centre (SOSF-DRC), provides a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for young people between the ages of 10 and 15 to visit the protected waters of D’Arros Island. Crafted to blend education, adventure, exploration and discovery, it features games, presentations and camping. The rich terrestrial and marine ecosystems of D’Arros serve as an ideal setting for young minds to immerse themselves in hands-on learning about environmental conservation.

Photo by Dillys Pouponeau | © Save Our Seas Foundation

Sheril De Comarmond, the foundation’s Education and Communications Coordinator, says, ‘Such experiences are pivotal in guiding future mindsets towards environmental stewardship. Participants emerge as youth ambassadors for the environment, empowered with knowledge to share within their communities upon their return home.’

She goes on to explain, ‘Recognising that a shift in our treatment of the environment requires behavioural change, the programme emphasises the transformative power of experiencing nature at first hand and engaging in educational activities. The D’Arros Experience effectively fosters this change, and in addition the students get front-row seats to some of the work the SOSF-DRC does on D’Arros.’

Participants competed for a spot on the 2024 trip by spotlighting their Local Environmental Hero. Entries could be in written, video or poster form and described how their chosen hero inspired them. Heroes could be family, educators or conservationists across the archipelago. Entries were judged anonymously by experts and the selection of the top 16 was based on a set formula.

Photo by Dillys Pouponeau | © Save Our Seas Foundation

The submissions received serve as a reminder that Seychelles may be small, but is not without its local heroes.

Anila Gonthier chose her grandfather, Dr Victorin Laboudallon, for his lifelong dedication to conservation. Gavin Marie honoured his cousin, Ivan Capricieuse, a recycling advocate. Ella Moustache highlighted Sir Steven Constance’s role as an inspiring educator in fostering environmental awareness.

These stories reflect the impact of local heroes in shaping Seychelles’ environmental consciousness.

Other environment champions who featured in the top 16 submissions were: marine biologist Luca Saponari, Dominique Thelermont, Marcus Quatre and Mervin Cedras (the trio behind the Ocean Clean Up project), Sir Steven Constance of Beau Vallon Primary School, teachers Sandrine Valentin, Carol Athanasius and Sylvie Quatre, conservationist Anna Zora, youth climate activist Jeremy Raguin, Richard Vincent Felix of Felix Organics, Jessica Lawen from Parley of the Oceans, conservationist veterans Nimal Shah and Victorin Laboudallon, the SOSF-DRC’s very own Ellie Moulinie and the foundation’s Sheena Talma.