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Celebration of World Environment Day at the Vallée de Mai

On 7th June, SIF celebrated World Environment day at the Vallée de Mai with a wide range of environmental education activities. The day began with a rally to raise awareness of Coco de Mer poaching. A group of 40 or so children, teachers and SIF staff gathered at Baie St Anne and Grand Anse. Equipped with banners that read ‘Proteze nou coco de mer!’ and ‘Aret vol Koko-de-mer!’, they rallied through the streets of Praslin to the Vallée de Mai. Chanting songs and singing they hoped to raise awareness in the local community about the problems of poaching Coco de Mer. The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the rally had a festival-like atmosphere.

Once the primary and secondary school children arrived at the Vallée de Mai, SIF had organised a full day of activities for them. Mr Marc Jean-Baptiste, the site manager for the Vallée de Mai, and Terrence Crea, from the Ministry of Education, opened the day’s activities with a rousing speech urging us all to remember to care for our environment and reduce our food waste (this year’s theme for World Environment day). The day commenced with the children participating in several activities at the visitors centre; face painting, creative writing, art, presentations from SIF staff on subjects such as ‘Life on Aldabra’, ‘The Black Parrot’, ‘The Importance of Coco de Mer’. Other children were taken on guided tours around the Vallée de Mai, where they learnt firsthand from knowledgeable SIF staff and invited guests about the biodiversity and uniqueness of the forest. There were also some competitions to participate in; a general trail quiz through the forest and an invasive species fact finding trail. The children, and tourists alike, enjoyed taking part in these quizzes in the forest and those that performed well had the opportunity to win some great books on Aldabra, Coco de Mer or the children’s favourite ‘Operasyon Kato Nwar’. The SIF social committee were also on hand selling delicious local snacks and fruits, which were a big hit with the children and tourists.

The day ended with an official prize giving ceremony for the Coco de Mer poaching awareness competition that had been launched in the schools on Praslin. Two of the children from the Praslin secondary school were the presenters for the event and performed excellently. Three other children from Pointe Larue school on Mahé also attended to give a moving speech on Coco de Mer poaching. This speech had won first prize last year in a public speaking school competition. Members of the 30th anniversary Vallée de Mai committee were on hand to present the prizes to the children for the poster, poem and song categories and some of the participants recited their poems. At the end of the prize giving there were some wonderful performances by the three groups that had entered the song category.

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