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Discover the Hidden Natural Beauty of Bonaire: Protect Our Unique Species

by | Mar 2, 2024 | Birding, Nature, Scuba Diving

A pair of Bonaire's famous flamingos - photo by Tanya Deen

Protecting our unique species on Bonaire is crucial.

Bonaire has an abundance of plant and animal species, both on land and in the sea. According to the Dutch Caribbean Species Register, a whopping 2,667 species are calling our island home. Why is that important? Well, because March 3, 2024, is World Wildlife Day!

What do we truly understand about our unique species?

In reality, not as much as one might think. Scientists regularly find new species on our island, highlighting the gaps in our knowledge. However, the plants and animals that surround us on Bonaire hold immense significance.

After all, our island is a tourist destination. If we didn’t have coral and fish in the sea, we wouldn’t be a diving paradise. And let’s not forget that we are also known as the Flamingo Island. More and more bird enthusiasts are discovering Bonaire as a bird paradise. Furthermore, cacti play a vital role in our economy, as it’s used in the production of rum and liqueur at The Cadushy Distillery!  Nature is the driving force behind our economy. We live from nature ( ‘nos ta biba di naturalesa’ in Papiamentu).

Within the multitude of species on Bonaire, there are familiar plants and animals deeply intertwined with our island’s identity. Among them are rare or endangered species, and those exclusive to our island, found nowhere else in the world. Certain animals and plants hold significance in our culture and tourism. These distinct species are referred to as ‘flagship species.” Flagship species are special animals or plants that play a crucial role in drawing attention to nature conservation efforts. Often well-known or exceptionally beautiful, which inspires people to advocate for their protection.

About Bonaire’s flagship species.

First, let’s look at some of our land-based flagship species. The flamingo and the lora (the yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot) compete for the title of Bonaire’s most famous bird. While parakeets are found on other islands, those on Bonaire are truly unique. And what would Bonaire’s landscape be without its plentiful cacti?  Pokwood (wayaká), paintwood (brazía), and kibra hacha are also found on our island. The Bonaire palm, known as kabana, is truly unique. As for reptiles, iguanas and lizards are, of course, very Bonairean. And we must not forget the only indigenous mammals: bats.

In the sea, there are frogfish, seahorses, sea turtles, dolphins, rays, and sharks, which captivate snorkelers and divers. And one species that could become extinct if we are not careful is the conch.

Protecting our unique species

Some of our plant and animal species are protected. Contrary to popular belief, not by STINAPA, as some people think, but by international treaties as well as by our own Executive Council. About sixty species currently benefit from these measures, which may increase in the future. Given the challenges facing our natural environment, discoveries of new animals or plants continue to occur, such as rare trees and new insects.

Enjoy World Wildlife Day!

(Source: OLB, Photo by Tanya Deen)

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Tanya Deen has been living in Bonaire since December 2016. She is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Instructor and enjoys underwater and bird photography. Tanya is the Editor-in-Chief of the Bonaire Insider tourism news blog.
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