‘Protez nou koko-d-mer’


The day started 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 ‘Protez nou koko-d-mer!’ and ‘Aret vol koko-d-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.  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 started with the children taking part 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 learned firsthand from knowledgeable SIF staff and invited guests about the biodiversity and uniqueness of the forest.  There were also some competitions to take part 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 who 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, Diania and Nelle, were the MCs 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 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, with students from Baie St Anne primary winning the first prize. 

Commenting on the day, Education and Outreach Officer Maria Brioche said: “We are really proud of all the work the children have put into the rally and the competition; they have demonstrated their passion in protecting the coco de mer.  We should be proud of their achievements! We (SIF) are also grateful to all the support from our partners and the schools in making this event a success.”  
The accompanying photos show highlights of the event.

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