Important Bird Areas of the Caribbean - Bonaire

Bonaire’s six IBAs—the island’s international site priorities for bird conservation—cover 23,830 ha (including their marine extensions). They embrace c.55% of the island’s land area. Washington-Slagbaai National Park IBA (AN009) and Klein Bonaire IBA (AN012) are formally protected within the national system. Parts of Washikemba–Fontein–Onima IBA (AN011), Pekelmeer Saltworks IBA (AN014) and Lac Bay IBA (AN013) have been identified as proposed protected areas within the Bonaire Nature Management Plan, but these recommendations have not been acted upon. However, the latter two IBAs are designated Ramsar sites, offering them formal recognition of their importance.

The IBAs have been identified on the basis of 10 key bird species that variously trigger the IBA criteria (see Table 1). The majority of these birds occur in two or more IBAs. However, Royal Tern Sterna maxima only nests in Pekelmeer Saltworks IBA (AN014), and the Near Threatened Caribbean Coot Fulica caribaea only occurs on the freshwater reservoirs in Washikemba–Fontein–Onima IBA (AN011). Perhaps of greater concern is the fact that c.60% of the Vulnerable Yellow-shouldered Amazon Amazona barbadensis population occurs outside of formal protected areas, leaving the species totally exposed to capture for the local pet trade. For example, Dos Pos IBA (AN010) contains some of the most important breeding and roosting sites for the species on Bonaire but receives no protection from future development (although there are no immediate threats to this area), or poaching.

There is an urgent need to establish secure, protected areas for breeding terns (Sterna spp.) on Klein Bonaire IBA (AN012), the islands in Goto Lake (IBA AN009) and in the Pekelmeer Saltworks IBA (AN014) through the eradication of cats and rats where possible (e.g. on Klein Bonaire), signage, fencing, and regular patrols. Such proactive management

would likely see a dramatic increase in the breeding tern (and plover Charadrius spp.) populations. More attention should also be given to balancing the management of Pekelmeer

Saltworks IBA for its ecological values in addition to its economic value. Washington-Slagbaai National Park IBA would benefit from a concerted program of removing goats, donkeys and pigs that are so dramatically impacting the vegetation. The landbird (and vegetation) monitoring program started in 2007 should help to determine the impact these grazing animals have had.

Amazona barbadensis would benefit from increased patrolling of the Washington-Slagbaai National Park IBA in an effort to stop poaching, although this would be difficult and costly. More practical would be a public awareness campaign to raise local pride in combination with enforcement of the laws prohibiting the possession of unregistered birds, thereby reducing local demand for wild-caught birds. Ideally this would reach beyond Bonaire to the neighbouring island of Curaçao as a (currently unknown) proportion of parrots poached on the island are exported to Curaçao. Amazona barbadensis on Bonaire is perceived by many as an agricultural pest. A detailed study to determine the extent of agricultural damage caused by the parrot, accompanied by measures to address this conflict with humans is also needed. Further research to determine the factors limiting the parrot

population on Bonaire is required to inform management decisions within the IBAs.

State, pressure and response variables at each IBA should be monitored annually to provide an objective status assessment and highlight management interventions that might be required to maintain these internationally important biodiversity sites.

Retrieved from Birdlife International


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