Boer, B.A.

Flamingos on Bonaire and in Venezuela

Results of a three year study (1975-1978) of Flamingos on Bonaire and in Venezuela, including population size, food availability, migration and nesting patterns.

On Bonaire the numbers of flamingos now do not differ significantly from those found before the Salt Works started. Nevertheless the food situation for the flamingos has deteriorated. The area available to them has been diminished and it seems they prefer the food in Venezuela. They do feed readily in the Salt pans though and there is abundant food available to them once they accept the snails as food item. There are signs however that the predation on Gemma purpurea is too heavy. It is unlikely that the gypsum crust in the higher pans will be removed. The management of the AISCO is however convinced that a biological management is absolutely necessary for the salt production too. It is to be expected that the dumping of fertilizers will enhance the organic production in the salt pans and hence the food supply for the flamingos. As explained there are certain dangers to this fertilizer program too. In changing the flow system the AISCO should take into account the effect of this on the flamingo-population. Also plans for harvesting brine shrimps must be weighed against the needs of the flamingos. Therefore it would be useful if e.g. 4 times a year there would be a control on the biological processes in the salt works. Biologists from the Caribbean Marine Biological Institute (Carmabi) on Curaçao could help out with this, possibly under auspices from the Stinapa, the foundation for nature conservancy in the Netherlands Antilles. It is clear that too much disturbance takes place, especially in the Sanctuary. A stricter guard should be kept to keep possible intruders out. The best solution would be if the government of Bonaire would appoint a special guard for the flamingos, at least for the breeding season. The airport officials should be more aware of their task to keep planes from entering the forbidden area and if a plane would tresspass stern measures should be taken against the pilot. It is highly recommendable to build some kind of observation post from which tourists can have a look at the breeding colony. A telescope (the type in which you have to throw a coin to look) seems to be in the possession of the Bonaire government already. An ideal place to put it would be the house next to the red slavehuts . It would prevent a lot of disappointment for bird-watching tourists, and justify the name of Flamingo island for Bonaire. An operator at the place could serve at the same time as guard for the flamingo-colony.

At the entrance to Lake Goto an oil-terminal has been built, far with little disturbance for the flamingos. Care should be so taken however that by a further expansion of this terminal lake Goto and its shores remain completely untouched. Especially the seapage from sea through the coral debris wall at the entrance of the lake should not be disturbed as this together with the high evaporation maintains the highly salinity environment.

The plantation Slagbaai has recently come into the possession of Stinapa. Plans are ready to open this area to the public and some facilities for visitors will be made. As the flamingos reside in the landlocked bay, and especially near some buildings which will be restored and put into use, care should be taken that the flamingos will not be chased by too eager bird watchers or photographers.

Data type
Research report
Research and monitoring
Report number
STINAPA Documentation Series, No. 3
Geographic location