The impact of feral goat herbivory on the vegetation of Bonaire

Feral goats (Capra hircus) are introduced but very successful herbivores found in areas all over the Caribbean island Bonaire. Within the Washington-Slagbaai national park, STINAPA is currently taking measures in order to control the goat population. Research was requested to provide a scientific background on the impact of feral goats in the park. This field experiment included the analysis of 13 areas where goats had been excluded for a period of 8 years. This study revealed the negative impact of feral goats on the vegetation of the Washington-Slagbaai national park. Recovery of the vegetation in the exclosures was found to be significantly higher in comparison with areas accessible for goats. Vegetation rejuvenation within the exclosures increased dramatically for tree species such as Capparis odoratissima, Randia aculeata and Guaiacum officinale. Direct and indirect positive relations with goat presence were observed for Opuntia wentiana and Croton flavens.

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