We discuss the significance of two manatee records for the Dutch Windward Islands (Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten) as well as six manatid and one crocodile record for the Dutch Leeward Islands (Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire). The persistence of the manatee in the Lesser Antilles until the early 17th century suggests that in pre-Columbian times manatees would have also occurred regularly in the Dutch Windward Islands. In pre-Columbian times, suitable habitat for the American crocodile was sufficient in the Dutch Leeward Islands to have supported small resident populations, and habitat for the manatee was possibly also present. Both species have been widely hunted by early humans and we surmise that small, isolated populations of these species could easily have been extirpated in the Dutch Leeward Islands well prior to European colonization. However, two manatee sightings with the last five years, suggest that these islands may somehow still form part of the active range of this rare and elusive species.
Buurt, G. van
List of pelagic fishes found around Bonaire and Curacao, including scientific, English, Spanish and Papiamento names. Published by the Agriculure, Husbandry and Fisheries Service of Curacao, as Agrinoticia, Piská – No.1
While translating the Dutch version of "de Amfibieen en Reptielen van Aruba, Curaçao en Bonaire" into English, I was forced to go through the entire text one more time, line by line. Thus it was inevitable that I ended up editing the text somewhat and adding to it as well. Since an English manuscript was now available, several people who had not been consulted previously could now give their comments, which have been incorporated in the English version. Thus the English translation is not a literal transcription of the Dutch version, although the differences between both versions are relatively minor. The islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire form part of a larger archipelago of islands along the Venezuelan coast. This archipelago includes all the islands from Los Monjes in the West to La Blanquilla in the East. The herpetofauna of the islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire should be viewed from this somewhat larger perspective. For this reason there are many references to the Venezuelan islands. Faunistic zones often transcend national borders. In this respect I have followed wagenaar hummelinck who in 1940 published the first general treatise of the herperofauna of this archipelago. My field guide is in large part based on this early work of wagenaar hummelinck (†).
This field guide is certainly not intended as a taxonomic work. Most guide books use slightly different classifications, sometimes all these differences can be quite exasperating. The latest classification is not necessarily the best, and some of the newer ideas have not gained general acceptance. In this English version the sub-species Leptodeira annulata bakeri and Crotalus durissus unicolor from the Dutch edition have been upgraded to full species status, in accordance with the prevailing taxonomic trends. I have simply tried to follow what seemed "the roads most traveled" and in many cases have indicated that other classifications also exist. In doing this I have certainly developed my own preferences, often siding with the "lumpers'', sometimes with the "splitters". I fully realize however that I do not have the expertise to make these kinds of taxonomic judgments, which are better left to others. It is however important to convey to the general public the idea that taxonomy has a subjective element and that taxonomy is not a static structure, but something that can change on the basis of new evidence or new interpretations. The field guide is also intended as a review summarizing available information on the herpetofauna of these islands. Local information on customs, beliefs and origins of local names has been included. The list of literature, cites many general works but is also intended to serve as a bibliography of the herpetofauna of the islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire. The sea turtles have not been included. In 1995 I published "De Schildpadden van Curaçao en Bonaire" (The turtles of Curaçao and Bonaire). This book was primarily intended for local use, one of its primary aims was to generate support for sea turtle protection. Since many books on sea turtles in the region already exist, there is no special need to translate this book into English.
Author's note, November 2017: This guide is somewhat outdated; some scientific names have changed, new invasive species have established themselves, at least on Curaçao, and of course new literature has appeared. Actually, a new edition is needed.
dit informatieboekje,behandelt de terrestrische herpetofauna van Aruba, Curaçao en Bonaire. Het is voor een belangrijk deel gebaseerd op de dissertatie van Wagenaar
Hummelinck, “Studies on the Fauna of Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire and the Venezuelan Islands”. Waar mogelijk is getracht een verband te leggen met Venezuela
en de Venezolaanse eilanden, zonder hier overigens al te diep op in te gaan.
Opmerking van de auteur , november 2017: Dit boekje uit 2003 is inmiddels enigszins verouderd; sommige wetenschappelijke namen zijn veranderd, er zijn nieuwe invasieve soorten die zich inmiddels, in ieder geval op Curaçao, gevestigd hebben, en natuurlijk is er ook de nodige nieuwe literatuur. verschenen. Er zou eigenlijk een nieuwe druk moeten komen.
Er is ook een Engelstalige versie van dit boek, "Fieldguide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire", die echter niet geheel identiek is.
Curaçao and Bonaire form part of the Netherlands Antilles, while Aruba has a “status aparte” within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. All three islands are relatively arid compared to a typical Caribbean island, with mean annual rainfall of 409-553 mm, and experience several periods of drought lasting two or more years each century. A short history of the islands is given, and protected areas are described. The laws and regulations protecting amphibians and reptiles are complex, with general laws originating from the Kingdom of the Netherlands participation in international conventions (such as CITES) together with supplemental laws of the Netherlands Antilles and individual islands. Sea turtles are generally well protected, although their nesting beaches would be vulnerable to a rise in sea level. Among the terrestrial herpetofauna, only the Aruba Island rattlesnake (Crotalus unicolor) is on the IUCN Red List, being Critically Endangered. The status of this species and others of particular interest is described. The Curaçao Island snake (Liophis triscalis) should probably be included as Vulnerable or even Endangered, though there is insufficient information at present. Iguana iguana populations on the different islands, and the Curaçao whiptail (Cnemidophorus murinus murinus) on Klein Curaçao, are distinctive and significant for conservation. An overview is given of introduced amphibians and reptiles and their possible effects on the native fauna. The arid climate of the islands may hinder the establishment of invasive species, which are often not able to survive in the bush and thus reduces their impact on native species.
The islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire together with the Venezuelan islands of Los Monjes, Islas Aves, Los Roques, La Orchila and La Blanquilla form an archipelago north of the Venezuelan coast. Of these islands Curaçao is the largest with a surface area of 444 km2. In this article an overview is given of the changes that have occurred in the natural environment of Curaçao, including the origin of its main geological features such as: Curaçao lava formation, limestone caps, lithification of coral sand and rubble, Knipformation and other phenomena. Changes in climate and sea level, extended dry periods, origins of the flora and fauna, the arrival of man and introduced species, overexploitation, naturalized species and invasive and “alert” species are also discussed.
We used nightly surveys to monitor the status of building-dwelling gecko species on the southern Caribbean island, Curac ̧ ao. Two gecko species were detected in 10 counts across five nights from 18 sites. We recorded the nonnative Wood Slave, Hemidactylus mabouia (81%, 369/455 observations), native Dutch Leaf-Toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus martini (11%, 50/455 observations), and unidentified geckos (8%, 36/455 observations) on the island. The Dutch Leaf-Toed Gecko was most common near the forest and rare elsewhere. Wood Slave abundance was not influenced by forest proximity. Wood Slaves commonly perched near lights that provided heat and attracted insect prey. In contrast, the Dutch Leaf-Toed Gecko perched away from lights. Similar to gecko species in Florida, Wood Slaves displaced Dutch Leaf-Toed Geckos. The Dutch Leaf-Toed Gecko was syntopic with the Wood Slave on buildings near the forest when resources were not limiting or if other gecko populations were not self-sustaining. As Wood Slave populations grew, they excluded Dutch Leaf-Toed Geckos, and possibly Antilles Geckos, Gonatodes antillensis, from these buildings. This exclusion adds novel obstacles to the continued survival of the Dutch Leaf-Toed Gecko on Curac ̧ ao. A similar situation may be present on Bonaire, and for a congeneric species on Aruba, where the Wood Slave is a more-recent colonist.
In 2005, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute sponsored a collecting trip to Curaçao and Klien Curaçao , as part of a grant to Ross Robertson, to document the fishes of the greater Caribbean region. The Curaçao Sea Aquarium provided support and accommodations for the research team. Collections were made at 29 stations between 2 January and 13 January 2005. Most of the collections were made using rotenone, which is the only effective method of collecting cryptic fishes. A total of 6,114 specimens of 119 taxa were collected. Along with those documented by Metzelaar (1919), FishBase, and several web-based museum collections, we present our findings from Curaçao to document a preliminary list of fishes from that region.
Recent inventories have documented no less than 211 exotic alien species in the wild for the Dutch Caribbean. These amount to no less than 27 introduced marine species, 65 introduced terrestrial plants, 72 introduced terrestrial and freshwater animals and 47 introduced agricultural pests and diseases. A list of these species, pests and diseases are found in resp. Debrot et al. (2011), Van der Burg et al. 2012, and Van Buurt and Debrot (2012, 2011). The rate of introductions and establishment of invasive alien species (IAS) worldwide has grown rapidly as a result of increasing globalisation. Invasive species cause major ecological effects (decimating native flora or fauna populations) as well as economic losses to these islands, across sectors such as agriculture (diseases, weeds and vectors), fisheries (fish diseases and the lionfish), industry (rodents and termites), tourism (roadside weedy species) and public health (mosquitos). Recently in Curaçao the kissing bug Triatoma infestans was found; this is a vector for Chagas disease. It almost certainly came in with palm leaves imported from South America to be used as roof covering for recreational beach “palapa’s”.
Several countries in the Caribbean have developed a strategy to address the invasive species problem already, such as Jamaica (Townsend 2009), the Bahamas (BEST Commission 2003) and St. Lucia (Andrew and John 2010, Chase 2011). Islands are particularly at risk because of a number of factors: their small size, resulting in small vulnerable plant and animal populations, a relatively large border which is difficult to control, a small human population lacking the necessary expertise and resources to take adequate measures. For islands, the sea acts as a strong natural barrier for natural transport of terrestrial flora and fauna, however human activities helped in overcoming this barrier. The issue of feral animals, especially roaming cattle, donkeys, goats create similar problems everywhere: they have a devastating effect on tree and shrub regeneration, which greatly degrades the natural vegetation, with severe soil degradation as a result. This shifts the competitive advantage to hardy exotics and creates runoff of nutrients and silt into the sea, where algal growth and silt deposition are damaging the coral. The new nature policy plan for the Caribbean Netherlands assigns a high priority to the invasive species problem (MinEZ 2013), which worldwide is considered second only to habitat destruction as a long-term threat to biodiversity (Kaiser 1999, Mooney 2001).
While acknowledging a focus on the Caribbean Netherlands in specific (Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius) this report sets the first key steps in developing a common frame of reference for the whole of the Dutch Caribbean (i.e. including the islands of Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten). These islands share historical and cultural ties, partly similar climates, scarce expertise, and experience most IAS as a common problem. The magnitude and severity of the problem is evident and necessitates a joint strategy into which action at insular level can be embedded for maximum efficiency and synergy: a common Invasive Alien Species Strategy (IASS).
The main action points for implementation are:
1. Develop and adopt guiding legal lists for action: Black lists, Alert lists and Watch lists, enumerating the species for which border control is essential or for which control and management actions would be required. A special task group should be made responsible for keeping these lists up to date.
2. Install effective border controls. To prevent is better than to cure: the costs of controlling or eliminating invasives once established can be very costly. For this reason and because of the earlier indicated special vulnerability of the island ecosystems, it is strongly recommended to prevent the entrance of (more) invasives.
3. Establish Invasive Species Management Teams. For the coordination of data collection, evaluation and the initiation of actions, a special team is required. This ISMT team shall have its own facilities and budget.
4. Define responsibilities and mandates. Ultimate responsibility for IAS control lies with the island governments. This means that policies regarding IAS will be determined by the government. However, to be effective and efficient the ISMT (see 9.) needs full mandate to act within the limits of their own budget.
5. Require quarantine documents. Phytosanitary certificates and animal health certificates will be required for all imports.
6. Enforcement. Staff must be trained and instructed how to perform border controls. They must obtain sufficient mandate and means to confiscate and dispose of prohibited goods.
7. Develop action plans. A plan of action needs to be ready, describing the successive steps and decisions that have to be made for key threat species at all stages of the invasion process.
8. Arrange access to properties. When an alien species is invasive and needs to be eliminated, it is important that regulations allow the exterminators access to all properties, private and public alike.
9. Assure public support. Large scale programs for extermination and control, especially of animals, needs extensive public support. Volunteers may prove essential to assure enough ‘eyes’ and manpower.
10. Make rapid surveys. In order to decide whether a complete eradication is needed or that monitoring and restricting the distribution (mitigation) is the best or only option, a survey of the extent of the problem must be assessed by experts.
11. Rapid response. Usually a rapid action can localise the problem to a restricted area or eliminate the first individuals effectively so that no further costs have to be made.
12. Make risk assessments before introducing natural enemies. In case species are already present in vast numbers, biological control is often a last resort. This usually means introducing a natural enemy from the area of origin of the species. This means introducing another alien species, which may become a pest in itself. Expert consultation and small-scale experimenting is usually needed before the potential natural enemies can be safely released.
13. Create an information system. A team of experts managing a computer database is needed. This ISMT team needs to develop a system for easy reporting of new discoveries of alien species, for maintaining and updating information on key threats. The information system supports policy, action and research at all levels of the invasion process.
14. Create a platform for cooperation. In order to develop the system further, a national as well as an island platform is needed for participation of all relevant stakeholders. These platforms will develop recommendations for the ISMT and the island governments, and may also act as support group for the ISMT.