Washington Slagbaai National Park - FAUNA
The visitor to Washington Slagbaai National Park, who studies the land fauna in detail, will be surprised to discover that a number of species are not only characteristic of the leeward islands of the Netherlands Antilles, but also unique to Bonaire. They are representatives of two groups, lizards and land snails, which are well adapted to the arid climate and which apparently, have lived for hundreds of thousands of years on the island which we now call Bonaire, so that they have developed into endemic species.
Bonaire has only a few mammals, 9 bat species, which have been observed up till now. They constitute half of the number known for the Antillean leeward Island as a whole. All other mammals living currently in Bonaire are exotic species, and were brought to our island by humans during the colonization periods.
The only amphibian on the island, a small frog, which also occurs on the mainland, was smuggled from Curaçao fifty years ago by a schoolboy.
The Netherlands Antilles Leeward Islands are true lizard country. Of the fifteen species known, no less than half are characteristic for the islands. The only snake on Bonaire, Culebra di plata (silver snake), is not bigger than a good-sized worm. 7 species of lizards inhabit Bonaire, two of which Anolis bonairensis and Cnemicdophorus murinus ruthveni, do not occur anywhere else in the world.
The small Gecko-like lizard that chases insects on the lamp lit walls of houses is called Tòtèki pega-pega (Philodactilylus martini). It is confined to Bonaire and Curaçao and related the Philodactylus species of Aruba, the Venezuelan islands and the main land of South America.
More striking is the even smaller Tòtèki, Gonotodes
Iguana iguana, is becoming rare in places where it is being hunted with catapult, noose and stones because of its tasty meat. In the National Park, however, iguanas may be commonly seen, between rocks or in the huge candelabrum-cactuses where they feed on the fruit.
According to the most recent data, 203 species of birds have been observed on the island, but this includes all casual avian visitors, which make up quite a large part of that number. What makes the birding in the National Park so attractive is the fact that there is such a variety to be seen in a comparatively small easily accessible area.
All over the Park and throughout the whole year you may find our residents, but there are special places that may give you an optimum chance for an easy birding experience:
A special note has to be made on two species of bird residents of Bonaire. First mention must be made of our trademark, the Caribbean flamingo. It is unnecessary to introduce this bird, which made Bonaire well known for being the only flamingo breeding site in the Southern Caribbean. Within the park area, they are most numerous in Goto Lake, but can also be observed in Slagbaai, Playa Funchi and occasionally in other saltpans.
Secondly, the Yellow-shouldered parrot is also a subspecies, which is not completely, but mainly, restricted to Bonaire. Unfortunately, this bird is very much valued as a pet by many people. As they bring a good price, many young birds are taken from their nests to be sold by people even though they are protected by law. If this predation by man cannot be stopped in time, it is very doubtful the parrots will be saved from extinction.