located on the northeast corner (the elbow) in the middle of the island
of Bonaire (10% of the island).
Located on the plantation are several unique natural features:
The caves and their resident endangered bat populations
Extensive habitats of many native animal species
Large population of native and transient birds including the endangered Lora (Amazona barbadensis)
Resting area for migrating terrestrial hermit crabs
Tropical dry forests (the most threatened parts of the earth’s environment)
The caves are the habitat of the bat populations which in turn are sole responsible for the pollination of cacti, which in turn are a key food source for the terrestrial fauna. A whole undividable bio system.
These caves cannot be separated from the surrounding ecosystems and their conservation must be integrated into the protection of the whole area.
Bolivia serves as an important ‘land bridge’ connecting the northern and southern halves of the island. If this ‘bridge’ is severed, as would happen if the area is developed, native species of both flora and fauna would be fragmented and be at even greater risk of extinction.
Save plantation Bolivia
We think this site will give you a good impression as to why we have to save Plantation Bolivia.
An ecosystem is a geographic area where plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as weather and landscape, work together to form a bubble of life. Ecosystems contain biotic or living, parts, as well as abiotic factors, or nonliving parts. Biotic factors include plants, animals, and other organisms. Abiotic factors include rocks, temperature, and humidity. Every factor in an ecosystem depends on every other factor, either directly or indirectly.
Basically, there are two types of ecosystems, the:
– aquatic ecosystems, which exists in a body of water and
– terrestrial ecosystems, which is found only on landforms.
The main factor which differentiates the terrestrial ecosystems from the aquatic ecosystems is the relative shortage of water in the terrestrial ecosystems and as a result the importance that water attains in these ecosystems due to its limited availability.
The oceanic ecosystem (subdivision of aquatic ecosystem) is the largest, most diverse ecosystem on the planet. There are many smaller ecosystems in this biome, including coral reefs, shoreline and deep-water ecosystems.
With regard to Plantation Bolivia there are two important ecosystems, Tropical dry forest (subdivision of terrestrial ecosystem) and Coral reef (subdivision of oceanic ecosystem).
For Bonaire Ecosytems Archive visit the website of DCNA here.
Tropical dry forest
Tropical dry forests are an unique ecosystem with high levels of endemism (containing many species found nowhere else). These forests are characterized by a pronounced dry season during part of the year, which provokes a variety of adaptations in plants and animals. The average rainfall is sufficient enough to promote growth of trees, but these tree and plant species must be able to withstand periods of low precipitation and moisture. Many tree species are deciduous, losing their leaves at the onset of the dry season to reduce water loss. Plants also store moisture in waxy leaves and tissues that swell with water collected during the rainy season. As that stored water is used in the dry season, it must be protected, thus many dry forest plants have fearsome spines. Dry tropical forest occurs most commonly on low islands or on the lee side of mountainous islands and on coastal areas of low relief.
Tropical dry forests are one of the most threatened parts of the earth’s environment.
Despite being home to many species found nowhere else on the planet, few tropical dry forests are protected. The extent of these valuable biological hotspots is just 10% of its historical range worldwide.
The wildlands of Bolivia serve the crucial ecological role of natural corridor for much of the native flora and fauna between the northern and southern halves of Bonaire.
An ecological corridor is a functional zone of passage between several natural zones for a group of species dependent on a single environment. This corridor therefore connects different populations and favours the spread and migration of species, as well as the re-colonisation of environments that have been disturbed
Ecological corridors are an essential element in conserving the biodiversity and proper functioning of ecosystems. Without their connectivity, a very large number of species would not have access to all of the habitats needed for their life cycles (reproduction, growth, refuge, etc.) and would be doomed to disappear in the more or less near future.
Connectivity refers to the ability of plants or animals to move freely through a landscape, seascape, or freshwater environment. The main goal of connectivity is to facilitate movement of individuals, through both dispersal and migration, so that gene flow is maintained between local populations. By linking populations throughout the landscape, there is a lower chance for extinction and greater support for species richness. More connectivity means fewer barriers to dispersal or migration and less fragmentation.
The IUCN WCPA Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group defines an ecological corridor as “a clearly defined geographical space, not recognized as a protected area or other effective area-based conservation measure, that is governed and managed over the long-term to conserve or restore effective ecological connectivity, with associated ecosystem services and cultural and spiritual values.”
This means a corridor is habitat that naturally exists in the landscape and needs to be maintained, enhanced, or restored so that species can use it to meet their needs.
Caves are a protected habitat type under the European Habitats Directive of the EU, mainly because of the presence of bats and other often unique fauna. Unlike many habitats in Europe, Caribbean caves do not have international protected status as habitats.
Bonaire has a number of caves that are of special significance for various reasons. As a geological appearance, they provide a picture of the oldest history of the island. In several places, caves are provided with petroglyphs made by the original Indian inhabitants of Bonaire: among others at Onima, Spelonk and Kueba di Roshikiri.
Some offer accommodation for bats or for special aquatic species, such as the blind Typhlatia shrimp. The significance of caves for the conservation of bats is particularly important, the bats use the caves as a resting place and nursery. Bats, which represents the majority of native mammals on land, have an important function in the ecosystem.Without these bats the terrestrial ecology of the Leeward Islands would literally collapse.
Bats are the only animal species that can pollinate night-blooming columnar cacti (Cereus repandus, Stenocereus griseus and probably Pilosocereus lanuginosus; Nassar et al., 2003) on Bonaire. These flowers and fruits of the columnar cacti are a very important food source for the fauna of Bonaire during the dry period. Ensuring tranquility is of paramount importance for the protection and preservation of the cave fauna. Conservation of an individual cave is meaningless unless its ecological connectedness to the surrounding areas is also recognized in the form of conservation of sufficient surrounding wilderness areas. The future perspective is currently assessed as moderately unfavorable.
The rocks of Bonaire have about a third of a volcanic origin, but the rest consists of limestone from the Quaternary. Caves mainly occur in relatively soft limestone, which dissolves relatively well and erodes under the influence of water and wind. Over time, hundreds of dry and wet caves have been created in this area. Bolivia harbors the most important concentration of (undisturbed) caves on Bonaire.
The entrances to caves are often found in or near slopes of the various limestone terraces. Roughly three lime terraces can be distinguished. The oldest High terrace is between 50 and 138 m, much of which has since been eroded. The younger Middle terrace is between 15-45 m. The youngest Low terrace is between 4-15 m and is almost all around the island. The Low terrace usually ends in cliffs by the sea, but in the southeast it is below 4 m and overflows into recently formed beach ridges. The island of Klein Bonaire consists entirely of limestone, with a central Middle terrace surrounded by a Low terrace overflowing with beach ridges (De Freitas et al., 2005).
The northern and eastern part of Bonaire are higher than the southern and western part of the island. In the higher part, water-containing caves are only found in the Low terrace. In the lower part of Bonaire, they can be found in the Middle terrace next to the Low terrace
Limestone caves are unique within the Caribbean Netherlands. Many of the caves are connected to groundwater and are important sites for native freshwater and brackish water fish and shrimp (Debrot 2003a, b). In addition, the waters of the caves are home to rich stygofauna.
Quite a lot of taxonomic work has been done on the occurrence of Bonaire’s rich endemic groundwater fauna (Stock, 1976a, b; 1977a, b; Vonk and Stock, 1987; Pesce, 1985), but virtually nothing is known about the ecology of this types.
Caves have little to no abiotic preconditions. The most important thing is to ensure peace for the fauna and water quality in the case of water-containing (wet) caves.
Necessary for a good structure and function of the caves requires the absence of:
- human disturbance,
- soil contamination and groundwater contamination by sewage and oil leakage.
Ensuring tranquility is of paramount importance for the protection and preservation of the cave fauna.
A large part of the caves on Bonaire have yet to be mapped. Bats and other fauna are not systematically monitored. Reference values are therefore unknown, which makes it difficult to determine the extent to which the caves and their fauna are improving or declining.
The prospects for the caves and cave fauna remain speculative for the time being. Especially because cave fauna, such as the Long-beaked bat (Leptonycteris curasoae), is part of a regional population that does not only depend on the caves on Bonaire. Recent research indicates that Long-beaked Bats (Leptonycteris curasoae) can commute between the Caribbean islands of Bonaire, Curaçao, Aruba and mainland Venezuela (Simal et al., 2015; DCNA, 2014; De Lannoy, 2013).
In order to protect the endangered Leptonycteris curasoae (Vulnerable (VU)- High risk of endangerment in the wild), the caves on Bonaire as outside Bonaire will have to be protected (Simal et al., 2015).
The organization Caribbean Speleological Society (CARIBSS) was founded on Bonaire in 2016 and focuses on exploring, mapping, protecting and managing caves in the Caribbean.
Developments such as CARIBSS and projects such as the “Bonaire Caves and Karst Nature Reserve” are positive, but do not yet remove existing threats. A further degradation of the Bonaire landscape is likely to result in less food for bats. An increase in tourism can lead to (the demand for) more recreational-tourist use and an increase in unrest in the caves. Urbanization will lead to possible destruction and contamination of caves with negative consequences for the endemic cave water fauna. The prospects for the future are assessed as moderately unfavorable.
Read the publication (in Dutch) Staat van de natuur van Caribisch Nederland 2017, WUR 17 Nov 2018, Debrot, A.O., Henkens, R.J.H.G., Verweij, P.J.F.M., here.
Bats or raton di anochi as in papiamentu, are the only mammals that can fly. Two nectar-feeding bats are the main pollinators and seed dispensers of the typical dry forest cacti, columnar (“candle”) cactus. The night blooming flowers of Candle Cactus are specifically adapted to entice bats to visit.
Columnar cacti not only support nectar feeding bats, but they also provide food and water to a broad range of animals. Therefore, protecting the bat fauna of Bonaire is essential to preserve the biodiversity of the island.
Three species of insect-eating bats also depend on caves for their diurnal and maternity roosts. These species are very important in maintaining the balance of the island’s insect population.
On Bonaire the bat population numbers are closely linked to suitable diurnal and roosting sites (caves) and a plentiful supply of there favorite cactus. The caves and the value they represent cannot be separated from the surrounding landscape and ecosystem and their conservation must be integrated into protection of significant surrounding natural habitat.
For the eight bat species you can find on Bonaire visit the website natuur-curacao.com (mamals/zoogdieren)
Bolivia, home of a total of at least 24 species of birds, 7 species of reptiles, 10 species of land snails, 1 species of native mammals
(bats) and 6 other miscellaneous native animal species. Bolivia forms the only undeveloped ecological connection between the northern and southern halves of the island. A side from any localized specific conservation value, the wildlands of Bolivia serve the crucial role of natural corridor for much of the native flora and fauna between the northern and southern halves of the island.
Honey Bee (Abeha)
The Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) or Abeha as in papiamentu, is an insect and has a body in three parts, a head, a thorax
and an abdomen. It has three pairs of jointed legs, feelers or antennae, and usually two pairs of wings. It also has: a hard skeleton that is on the outside of its body, it will hatch from an egg as a larvae and it will undergo metamorphosis as it grows.
Honey Bees are social and live in a colony. A colony may consist of ten of thousands of individuals. They prefer nest sites that are clean, dry and protected from weather, with an entrance that is approximately 3 meters above ground and facing south or southeast.
A colony of Honey Bees has three distinct types of organisms:
1. the queen, mother of the colony;
2. the drones, (males) the only drones that are allowed to fly on bonaire without a permit😉;
3. the workers, all females and do all the work that needs to be done in the colony, such as:
- keep the nest site (hive) clean;
- take care of and feed the queen and the bee larvae;
- produce wax to build and fix the hive;
- forage for nectar and pollen to make honey and royal jelly to feed the larvae and the queen;
protect the hive;
- remove death bees and larvae from the hive;collect water to bring to the nest site to keep the temperature in the colony a stable 34C°.
The queen Bee is the mother of the colony. As females, they develop from fertilized eggs that are laid in vertical cells (Queen’s cup). After 16 days (on average), the adult queen emerges with an elongated abdomen that will soon be ready to mass produce eggs. As a virgin queen, she takes off on her mating flight with part of the colony, mates with multiple males (polyandrous) and returns to lay eggs for the majority of her life. The males fertilize the queen and with that act they have done their duty and are killed by the workers. The new queen Bee starts her own colony. The hive is built of a number of combs which consist of hexagonal cells made of wax.
The Honey Bee has many specialties:
It uses the sun and other landmarks to find its way and can dance to show other bees where to find food. Honey Bees are central-place foragers and may forage several kilometers from their hive. Honey Bees primarily use path integration in making their way to and from foraging sites. Dance information provides outgoing bees with a distance and direction to be traveled. Flight direction is set by sun compass orientation, and the distance of flight by an internal “odometer” that measures the rate at which visual images flow past the eyes. Other inputs, such as odors, provide supplementary information. Once a route is learned, bees incorporate visual and olfactory landmarks when repeating visits to a foraging site. The return trip is governed by path integration as well, but also may be informed by landmarks.
It has a sting to defend itself, but they will do so only when their own live is in danger. When they sting they lose there life, the sting is actually a modified ovipositor and possesses barbs. Once inserted it cannot be withdrawn so when the bee tears itself loose it rips open its own abdomen and dies.
It feeds on flowers (nectar and pollen) and pollinates (fertilizes) the flowers at the same time.
It builds honeycomb nests and makes honey.
Bees are vitally important for everyone. Honey bees make honey by mixing nectar with enzymes and by fanning the mixture with their wings to help the water to evaporate. What’s more, they make beeswax that we can use in cosmetics, candles and furniture polish.
Did you know that bees, including Honey bees and bumblebees, pollinate over 250,000 species of plants and more than 100 different crops, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and many of the foods that farm animals rely on?
Reference: Michael D. Breed, Janice Moore, in Animal Behavior (Second Edition), 2015.
Bonaire knows one Iguana species, namely the Green Iguana (or Common Iguana) or Yuana as in papiamentu. Of the reptiles this is the most impressive animal one can encounter on Bonaire. Fully grown a male may reach two meters in lenght (6.5 feet), including its tail and weighing up to five kilograms (11 pounds). Their tail makes up half of there body length. Adult Iguana’s have agrey-green colour while the young are bright green. They will live for 10-15 years
In spite of there size they can move very quickly. When they are discovered they initially trust in their distinctive camouflage. As soon as they know they are discovered however, they will drop to the ground and run away as fast as they can. Like other lizards, they can detach there tail when caught and there will grow a new tail back. They are also great swimmers!
The Iguana is a herbivore, meaning it eats no meat but eats only leaves, new shoots, flowers and fruits. They get their water from catching rain and condensation on the flowers and leaves of the trees, but most come from their food. Although they sometimes eat an unsuspecting insect that has been hiding in a flower, they are no omnivores. The jaw of the Iguana is very strong and filled with razor sharp teeth.
Because the Iguana is a reptile, and therefore a cold blooded animal, it needs the sun’s heat to warm up. After the sunrise, the iguanas begin to move from their sleeping places to a place where they can soak up the sun’s heat. Shortly after sunrise, they are warm enough to move around and look for food. After searching and eating food, they need to move to another place to catch the sun. They must be warm enough to digest the food they have eaten. Their days are filled with periods of activity and long periods of rest.
The Iguana is on Bonaire’s list of protected animals and plants.
Termites (Cryptotermes cylindroceps) or Komehein in papiamentu are also known as white ants. They are indeed very reminiscent of ants. Yet they are by no means related to them, even though the reproductive cycle is in some ways similar to that of most ant species. Termites live in highly specialized colonies and make giant nest mounds. All activities of the pale, blind termites are devoted 24 hours a day to the well-being and preservation of the termite colony, which can consist of millions of termites. Their society is so complex that many termites never see the light of day. The queen can reach the age of 20 years, unlike the workers who ‘only’ do their hard work for 2 to 3 years. The termite colony’s armored and venomous soldiers have enormous jaws.
Taxonomic classification of termites (Isoptera)
Termites belong to the Arthropoda (arthropod) tribe, the Insecta (insects) class, the Isoptera (termites), and the Termitidae family, one of seven families with eight subfamilies and 2300 species. Most species live in Africa and Asia. The nests can consist of millions of termites and are recognizable by their often-enormous nest mounds above ground, made of earth, saliva and feces. Termites have been around for 65 million years and are related to the cockroach (higher taxon).
Characteristics of termites
Termites are pale white, almost colorless insects. However, the external differences between the social classes can be great. The social structure of a termite colony consists of a type of caste system, in which the queen is the hub of the colony and can grow from five to over ten centimeters long, depending on the species. Future queens and kings (a number of females and males annually) begin their lives as winged termites. The males are short-lived and die after mating. In addition, there are the soldiers and workers, who can be either male or female. The length of these groups varies from 0.3 to 2 centimeters. Termites are basically nocturnal animals but can also be visibly active during the day.
Eyes, wings and feelers
Termites have six legs, like all insects. Most termite species are blind, although not all tropical species. The fertile termites also have well-developed eyes. The wings are distinctively different from the ant. The termite’s four wings are the same size as the body, unlike ants. Termites antennae are straight (the ants has curved antennae) and blunt. The armored soldiers’ heads are proportionately larger than those of the workers. This also applies to the scissors (jaws).
Color and mouth parts
The workers are generally pale to colorless and translucent. The winged, fertile termites, on the other hand, are black to dark brown. The soldiers, who have no wings, look brownish. They are also equipped with larger jaws (scissors), which in many cases have the form of a saber and are equipped with teeth and barbs. The mouthparts are caustic, chewing. However, there are differences depending on the species.
Most termite species are blind. However, they have strong social characteristics, just like bees, ants and wasps. Termites communicate using pheromones. The workers and soldiers, for example, recognize their queen by a certain fragrance that only the royals carry with them. The queen also secretes special chemicals that control the growth of the offspring, which ultimately determines the caste to which the individual termites will belong. The workers who care for the larvae absorb these substances and feed them to them with food. Each colony has specific pheromones that distinguish it from others and from which the termites recognize each other.
2300 termite species are known and described. Most of them live in the subtropics and tropics in often giant nests of millions of specimens, depending on the species. Each termite belongs to a social group or “caste”. The queen is central to this social structure. Her job is to lay eggs. Nest construction involves a complex social event that revolves around the queen and the larvae. An army of soldiers and workers is at her disposal. The hierarchy is very tight.
Termites are monogamous. The queen regularly mates with the king, who lives in her presence. Naturally, the colony must be defended from natural enemies and protected from other calamities. The soldiers are very well equipped for this. The workers are the largest caste. They maintain the nest, expand it, look for food and take care of the larvae. Workers do not live older than 3 years on average, while a queen can live up to 20 years. Depending on the species, these insects live in hollow tree trunks or in a labyrinth of underground passages. The nest hills are striking.
The food requirement of termites also depends on the species. The termites on Bonaire live off dead wood, they breakdown dead wood so it can be reused in the ecosystem. The wood they consume consists largely of the hard-to-digest cellulose. However, the termite’s gastrointestinal tract contains bacteria that can partially convert the cellulose into more digestible substances.
The termites maintain so-called ‘fungal gardens’ to digest the remaining cellulose. The termites deposit their feces in special rooms. Feces on which fungi grow over time. Fungi that are eaten by the termite and that break down the remaining cellulose in the gastrointestinal tract and also serve as food. It is therefore a kind of feeding cycle.
Natural enemies of termites
Many animals and insects live on termites, ranging from centipedes to ants, spiders and lizards. They simply invade the termite nest and feast on what they encounter. Termite soldiers specialize in repelling these enemies. With their scissors on the relatively large head, they attack the invaders relentlessly. Nevertheless, things often go wrong and, for example, an ant attack can kill a complete termite colony.
Usually a nest mound consists of an underground and above-ground part. The part that protrudes above the ground contains a lot of air channels. Numerous ‘fungal gardens’ have also been created.
The termites keep their nests cool by keeping the outer wall wet with water, depending on the weather conditions. Water that they bring up from deep through small shafts and tunnels. The above-ground part of the nest is therefore often intended to regulate the nest temperature. The outer walls are made of soil, saliva and feces.
Possible future queens and kings periodically fly out of the nest, forming large swarms in the air. Because their wings are not really suitable for this, they only cover a short distance. Eventually they fall back to the ground, lose their wings and crawl looking for a partner, where the queen secretes fragrances (pheromones) to attract a male. The pairs that form is monogamous. The queen and king stay together all their lives, like a royal couple.
Then they make a nest room and the queen will lay eggs. Thus, a new termite colony is created. The less fortunate winged royals are eaten on the ground by spiders, ants and reptiles. The workers emerge from the first larvae, both males and females. This generation takes care of the next generation. As the queen grows older, her abdomen grows, and she can eventually lay 30,000 eggs a day. In the initial phase, however, no more than 10,000 eggs. In the nest it is a coming and going of workers who bring the eggs to incubators. They also transport the queen to another room as soon as the nesting room becomes too small for her.
Termites are among the most common insects, the evolution of which began 65 million years ago. Termites are not an endangered species, although on Bonaire the habitat is threatened through development of wilderness to residential area. But an even greater danger for the termites is the destroying of their nest mounds and therewith the killing of the termites by misinformed people who think that termites are a danger to the healthy trees.
The Spaniards introduced goats to Bonaire in 1527. Livestock farming in the Caribbean Netherlands has always been extensive. During the 18th and 19th centuries, various measures were promulgated to protect forest stands and meadows against erosion and overgrazing (Van Grol, 1942; Westermann and Zonneveld, 1956) but these measures were never enforced and only concerned the domain area (land owned by the island government) but not the large privately owned plantations (De Freitas et al., 2005).
A total of approximately 32,200 goats roaming free on Bonaire of which 60% are kunuku goats and 40% without an owner. Based on results in comparable Curaçao, it appears that livestock densities of 1 goat per 10 hectares (24,71 acres) allow rapid ecological recovery, including the recovery of many rare species. On Bonaire there are more than 14 goats per 10 hectares (24,71 acres). This is more than 14 times higher.
Goats are among the most flexible of livestock and can adapt to practically anything. Goat populations can grow quickly. For the average goat from Bonaire, when using the theoretical approach by Caughley and Krebs (1983) of a natural growth rate of 0.38, or 31% population growth per year. This means that more than 31% catch per year is at least needed to keep the population stable, then there is still no case of a decrease (Debrot, 2016).
On Bonaire, the aridest of the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands, the situation with roaming cattle is the most acute and there are many tree species that can no longer regenerate because the seedlings do not survive the grazing pressure. Many native species on Bonaire are probably already extinct, but many others will follow in the coming decades if measures are not taken (Lo Fo Wong and De Jongh, 1994; Proosdij, 2001; Freitas et al., 2005). While the problem has long been recognized (Anonymous 1985, 1989, 2006, 2009), few measures have actually been taken so far. Of particular concern is how stray goats and donkeys strip the bark of the columnar cacti that is leading to the death of these all-important trees. Cacti bloom and give fruit in the dry season when deciduous trees are usually bare and are therefore an essential food source for the fauna during the dry season (Petit, 1997).
A new form of livestock farming is therefore recommended not only to offer real opportunities to the sector but also to reduce the negative environmental and economic consequences of the current system.
Populatie schatting geiten op Bonaire, IMARES Aug 2015,
Staat van de natuur van Caribisch Nederland 2017 Wageningen Marine Research rapport C086/17
In progress, it will be finished at the end of December.
Father P.A. Euwens OP already considered that for nature the most drastic event in history of Bonaire was the cutting down of trees for export and burning charcoal, as you can read in the following article, published in 1907 (original text in Dutch):
“There was a time when Bonaire was densely overgrown with shrubs and trees. Even now, after years of uncontrolled cutting down trees, Bonaire compares favorably to the two neighboring islands in this regard. Already in the time of the Spaniards, Bonaire annually supplied a considerable amount of wood, of which the Brasilwood (Haematoxylon Brazilense), also called red Dyewood, and the Roughbark Lignum-vitae (Guayacum officinale) both had commercial value. All exports of this wood have ceased for some years. All the thick and heavy trunks of Brasilwood and Wayaká have been felled. In many places one can still see a spindly trunk. However, given the slow growth of this wood and the current larger population, taking into account that all timber from North America must be imported, it is no surprise that these few spindly trunks rarely come to full maturity, despite the strict penalties issued by the government for felling trees.”
De tegenwoordige economische toestand van Bonaire, Neerlandia jrg. II no 12, 1907; p202-203: Visit here
Probably due to the fact that on Plantation Bolivia some trees, at the time of the Spaniards, where already very old, nowadays more then 700 years old, they escaped the fate of been cut down for export. The attempt to cut these (at that time already) ancient trees failed, this can be seen in several Wayaká’s in Bolivia; traces of the saws and axes on the trunks. The smaller branches of these trees were cut off at the time, but the trunks were too thick and heavy to cut and transport them to the ships.
So why take the risk of destroying these beautiful trees, some of them survived for more than 700 years, by developing Bolivia when there are excellent alternatives (Strategic Environmental Assessment (SMB)).
Lignum Vitae (Wayaká)
Two species of Lignum Vitae or in Papiamentu Wayaká grow on Bonaire: the Roughbark Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum officinale)
and the Holywood Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum sanctum).
These, 3 to 5 meter high, evergreen tree species are very slow growing and have multiple twisted (spotted) trunks as well as leathery dark green leaves. Several times a year, they become covered in large clusters of beautiful small blueish-purple flowers, about 1.5 cm tall and bloom in the branches of the youngest twigs, that yield pointed heart-shaped top bright yellow-orange fruit. When they burst open the red seeds become visible. This tree for sure graces the landscape in all stages of its life cycle.
The wood from both trees is the second heaviest wood in the world and is the densest and hardest wood known. The hardness of the wood is caused by the slow growth which makes the wood very dense. Because the wood is self-oiling Lignum Vitae was a popular choice for steamship bearings and for use in equipment like pulleys; composite materials eventually replaced it in marine construction and heavy machinery.
Lignum Vitae’s, which literally translates to “tree of life”, woods and resins were also valuable for medicinal purposes, used for conditions ranging from gout to skin infections.
These uses caused over harvesting, reducing native populations tot the point that Lignum Vitae is since 1998 listed as Endangered by IUCN. Their presence on CITES Appendix II also means that trade in their wood is strictly regulated.
On plantation Bolivia you can find prehistoric Wayaká’s, more than 700 years old. These trees survived because the trunks were too thick, people could only cut off some branches. The traces of the saws and axes with which attempts were made to cut the trees can still be seen on the trunks of these trees. The trees have been healing themselves over the ages and will last for centuries more if we protect them.
The Lignum Vitae is on Bonaire’s list of protected animals and plants.
You can visit the IUCN red list here.
Yellow Poui (Kibrahacha)
“It’s hard to miss the Kibrahacha with its brilliant yellow flowers as it appears in full bloom, by magic one day. Then a few days later, it flutters silently, carpeting the ground, in ones or twos, like flakes of snow.”
The Yellow Poui (Tabebuia billbergii) or Kibrahacha in papiamentu, is one of the most spectacular trees of our island.The tree grows to a height of seventy or eighty feet and it is very resistant to termites. Each trumpet-shaped flower leaf is palmately compound and comprises five to seven leaflets. The leaves shed early in dry season and new foliage is not produced for three or four months. Flowering takes place in April or May, after months without any rain, the first showers of the short rainy season fall, this tree envelops itself within three days in a shroud of bright yellow flowers. The bloom does not last long though; after three days the flowers drop off and only then the tree starts growing leaves.
This kind of strategy is found in more plants: if the circumstances are unfavorable (drought) the plant makes seeds as soon as the opportunity (in this case the first showers) present itself, in this way assuring reproduction. After the flowering the tree forms long, thin pods full of flat, light seeds which are blown away by the wind.
The Papiamentu name “Kibrahacha” has its origin in the very hard wood of this tree. The wood is so hard that the ax (hacha) will break (kibra) on it.
Bolivia is part of Washikemba-Fontein-Onima, one of the six Bonaire Important Bird Areas (IBA) under the BirdLife International protocol. The area has been designated as IBA AN011. The only one of the six not designated as nature and therefore not protected. On this website you will find a selection of the birds you can spot on Bolivia.
Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot (Lora)
The charismatic Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot (Amazona barbadensis) or Lora as in papiamentu. The Lora is the only parrot native to our island. The Lora is considered vulnerable to the threat of extinction, placed on the red list of IUCN. The parrot’s habitat is under continuous threat from commercial and residential development.
The lora is on Bonaire’s list of protected animals and plants.
If loudly screaming bright green birds flash by, they must be Parakeets (Aratinga pertinax), known as Prikichi in Papiamentu. The Parakeets eat seeds from wabi, dividivi and inju trees and fruit of the cactus. As nest sites they often choose termites’ nests in which they dig out a tunnel, sometimes with the termites still occupying the structure, they also are nesting in sheltered tree cavities. Mindless clearing of vegetation is causing a lot of these nests to disappear.
The Parakeet is on Bonaire’s list of protected animals and plants.
- For more information about the Parakeet visit the Dutch Caribbean Biodiversity Database (dcbd)
- You can visit the IUCN red list here
The Caracara (Polyborus plancus) or Warawara in papiamentu. This medium-sized bird of prey is easily recognized in flight by its slightly gawky way of flying. It has a predominantly dark brown plumage with white barred underparts. Its head is white, except for a black crown and a short black crest at the rear. Its eyes and facial skin are red, and the hooked bill is gray. Its black wings and tail have white barring. The Warawara uses its long yellow legs to walk and run on the ground. It feeds mainly on carrion.
The Warawara is on Bonaire’s list of protected animals and plants.
For more information about the Warawara see the website of Wikipedia
The vast plains of Bolivia with a forest of Columnar Cactus is stunning and impressive which leaves a great impression on visitors both today and in the distant past as you can read in the following passage from a travelogue dated 1829 (original text in Dutch):
“Such a forest of Columnar Cactus makes a strange spectacle. It has something amazing and terrifying, so many arms, sometimes 15 or 20 feet in length, rise in the air, entirely occupied with regular long spines or thorns. The wind hisses and whistling abiding by it, and the wild and raucous cries of the parakeets and parrots strengthens the impression of this fierce drama.”
Reizen in West-Indië, en door een gedeelte van Zuid- en Noord-Amerika, by G.B. Bosch, L.E. Bosch, 1829, publisher Utrecht, N. Van der Monde: Visit here
Candle cactus (Kadushi, Breba)
The Columnar (“Candle”) Cactus (Subpilocereus repandus) or in papiamentu Kadushi or Breba, is recognizable by it start with a single trunk and branches out only when it reaches a certain height. It can grow to a height of up to ten meters. The ribs are covered
with areoles, each bearing eight to twenty spines. The arms of the cactus show segmentation. It blooms at night with greenish white to pink-coloured flowers. The main pollinators are the nectare feeding bats. The Breba (Subpilocereus repandus) and Datu (Stenocereus griseus) are considered “ a keystone” species and a keystone food source for the terrestrial fauna not only they support nectar feeding bats, but they also provide the food and water to a broad range of other animals, including the parakeet and Lora. These two species of Candle Cactus grow very slowly but are destroyed in the blink of an eye. The biggest individuals are serveral hundreds of years old. So we are obliged to protect and preserve them for future generations.
The Columnar cactus is on Bonaire’s list of protected animals and plants.
Candle cactus (Kadushi, Datu)
Columnar (“Candle”) cactus (Stenocereus griseus) or in paiamentu Datu, Yatu or Kadushi is a large columnar cactus that can reach 9 meters high. It does not produce one trunk with several branches like the Kadushi or Breba (Subpilocereus repandus) instead it grows separate stems that grow upright. Stems have 7 or 8 ribs and are pale green to pale blue green. The grey-white spines are short and thick and darker at the tips. The flowers are light pink to creamy white. The fruit is dark red and covered with spin
The Datu (Stenocereus griseus) has two distinct features that help differentiate it from the Breba (Subpilocereus repandus):
1) it branches out at ground level and
2) its thorns are tightly spaced together and make up neat rows of rosettes of 7 to 8 spines.
The Datu (Stenocereus griseus) just as the Breba (Subpilocesreus repandus) bloom at night; the flowers stay open until midday. They are both pollinated by bats, moths, hummingbirds and bees; nectar-feeding bats are reported to perform the majority of the pollination.
These two species of candle cactus grow very slowly but are destroyed in the blink of an eye.
The biggest individuals are several hundreds of years old so we are obliged to protect and preserve them for future generations
The Datu is on Bonaire’s list of protected animals and plants.
Turk’s cap cactus (Milon di seru)
Turk’s cap cactus (melocactus species) or in papiamentu Milon di seru, Kabes di indjan, Bushi, there exist various species which look very much alike. The most common species has about twelve ribs covered with reddish brown spines. When flowering, the cactus starts to grow a felt-like pillow on top of which the small pink flowers appear. With each succeeding flowering period the pillow grows a bit more and some of the cacti have quite a chimney on their “heads” (the Turk’s cap). The fruit is pink to pale red and quite edible though without a distinctive taste. The Melocactus has a very extensive root system to collect as much water as possible.
The Turk’s cap cactus is on Bonaire’s list of protected animals and plants.