WE TREAT OUR ANIMALS WITH GREAT RESPECT
If you come to our island, you will definitely encounter a lot of animals you probably have never met before. We love all animals on our island and have great respect for their environment. We protect them in every possible way. In the air, on land or in the sea. We ask the same from you.
In the air
Our island is a paradise for bird watchers. Our mangroves and freshwater resources are an ideal retreat for all kinds of birds and you are certainly going to meet them; we have more than 200 different species! On our island, you can see shorebirds, seabirds and land birds. Most of them live on the island year round, such as the green parakeet, the oriole and the bananaquits.
Our green Lora with the yellow head is only seen on our island and therefore protected, there are still few left.
The seabirds you will encounter are the pelican, osprey, bald eagle and frigate bird. Of course, you can also see our flamingos regularly. They too are protected and have their own sanctuary: Pekelmeer.
On the ground
Although the goats and donkeys stand out the most on our island, we do have a lot of other interesting animals, like more than sixteen different types of lizards, of which more than half do not live elsewhere in the world. You’ll certainly see them, especially our bloblo with its blue tail. They hide in all sorts of places right around you and they sometimes quickly run across the road.
Our iguanas like to climb in our trees and cacti as a hiding place, to run away again as fast as they can. They are protected in Washington Slagbaai National Park and can be huge, sometimes almost two feet! They swim well and can stay under water for quite some time. Most are quite shy and that makes perfectly sense, as we try to get hold of them as soon as they leave Washington Slagbaai. By eating them, we get ‘hopi forsa’, a lot of strength.
In the night you’ll most likely see bats flying around, we have a lot of them: eight different types. They fly at night in search of food: flowers, insects and fruits. Especially the fruits of our cacti are very tasty to them.
Our goats and donkeys are a very common sight in our streets; you see them everywhere. Not everyone is equally happy about that, because they really eat everything they can, except our cacti. But they are a part of our culture and to be protected. The donkeys are cared for in a donkey sanctuary and the goats are respected for their meat; we find that a real delicacy.
In the sea
Everyone who comes to Bonaire knows that heaps of beautiful tropical fish swim in our sea. We are also known for our coral reefs. However, most people don’t know that the sponges and corals on our reefs are animals, not plants. Corals are tiny polyps which build a skeleton of limestone to protect themselves. Sponges are simple multicellular animals that live in a horned skeleton (what we call a sponge and use in our showers).
Apart from fish and corals, you can also encounter enormous sea turtles on and around our island. We have five different species, and the largest one (leatherback turtle) can be 6 feet and between 550 to 1100 lbs! On our island, you see mostly green turtles, they find their food in the mangroves of Lac Bay. Around Klein Bonaire you find mostly Hawksbill and Loggerhead turtles, which lay their eggs on the beach between March and August.
Another famous but unfortunately endangered marine life on our island is the Conch. Its beautiful pink shell used to be very popular as a symbol of our tropical island and the snail of up to 53 inches was eaten. Unfortunately, overfishing left not much conch population. Therefore, they are now (since 2005 ) protected on our island. Nevertheless, people are still illegally hunting for them.