Bonaire Travel, Hotels & Lodging Guide

Bonaire's Flora & Fauna

The old salt pans of Pekelmeer, posed an ecological problem: Bonaire has one of the largest Caribbean flamingo colonies in the Western Hemisphere, and these birds build their conical mud nests in the salt pans. Pleas from wildlife conservationists convinced the company that it should set aside an area of 56 ha for a flamingo sanctuary, with access strictly prohibited. The birds, initially rather startled by the sudden activity, have settled into a peaceful co-existence, so peaceful in fact that they have actually doubled their output and are now laying two eggs a year instead of their previous one. There are said to be over 15,000 flamingoes on the island, and they can be seen wading in Goto Meer Bay in the northwest, in the salt lake near Playa Grandi, and in Lac Bay on the southeast coast of Bonaire, feeding on algae which give them their striking rose-pink colour. It is an impressive sight to witness the flamingoes rising from the water in the evening as they prepare to overnight in Venezuela.

There are also two smaller bird sanctuaries at the Salt Pans and Goto Meer. At Pos’i Mangel, in the national park, thousands of birds gather in the late afternoon. Bronswinkel Well, also in the park, is another good place to see hundreds of birds and giant cacti. The indigenous Bonaire Green Parrot can be seen in the Park and at Onima. About 190 species of birds have been found on Bonaire as well as the flamingoes. An annual Birdwatching Olympics and Nature Week is held in September, with prizes for those who spot the greatest number of species.

There are lots of iguanas and lizards of all shapes and sizes. The big blue lizards are endemic to Bonaire, while the Anolis, a tree lizard with a yellow dewlap, is related to the Windward Islands Anolis species rather than to the neighbouring Venezuelan species. The interior has scant vegetation but the enormous cacti provide perching places for yellow-winged parrots. The most common mammal you are likely to see is the goat, herds of which roam the island eating everything in sight except the cacti.


Cactus Flower

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