Caribbean Wildlife Conservation
Caribbean wildlife conservation projects including Belize and Costa Rica
In this Caribbean Wildlife Conservation section of Active Caribbean you will find out which countries have conservation programs and preservation projects that are open to volunteers. We should of course do everything in our power to protect and conserve the Caribbean for generations to come – although sometimes we are fighting against the odds.
The Caribbean is an incredible region, not only because it’s a wonderful chill-out hotspot offering wonderful sun, sea, sand and knock-out rum punches but also because of its diverse wildlife. There are a number of endangered species throughout the Caribbean. Happily, awareness is growing in the region as to how very important conservation projects are to protect and conserve the diverse Caribbean wildlife and its fragile tropical habitat.
Do take time out on your next vacation in the region to discover the Caribbean wildlife conservation scene for yourself… it’s truly amazing in some countries and, with a number of conservation projects ongoing, you will be able to contribute to protect our future.
Caribbean wildlife conservation – turtles
There are many islands where turtles can be spotted nesting at certain times of the year on the beaches of the Caribbean, and also many destinations where you can dive and snorkel with them. There are, needless to say, a number of turtle conservation projects in hand in the Caribbean and the Sea Turtle Conservancy, formerly known as the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, is the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group. The mission of the Sea Turtle Conservancy is to ensure the survival of sea turtles within the Caribbean region through research, education, training, advocacy and protection of the natural habitats upon which they depend.
Caribbean wildlife conservation – endangered iguanas
There are eleven species of iguanas in the Caribbean, ten of which are endemic to the region- they do not exist anywhere else in the world. They are large lizards (herbivorous) from the Iguanidae family. Their habitats are scrubland and dry tropical forest and their diet… flowers, fruit and leaves.
As a group of lizards, they are the most endangered in the world. Out of the eleven species, eight are listed as being endangered or critically endangered. Five of the Caribbean iguana species that are most endangered are being bred in captivity then released back into the Caribbean (San Diego Zoo’s department of Conservation and Research for Endangered Species-CRES). Mongooses, cats, dogs, goats and pigs are the main threats to Caribbean iguanas.
Thanks to a successful conservation plan the Grand Cayman blue iguana numbers have increased from 25 in 2002 to over 750 blue iguanas now on the island. The Jamaican Iguana, thanks to rigorous conservation hard work, now number more than 300 from near extinction in the late-1980s. Caribbean iguanas are important to the ecosystem – they are virtually seed dispensers.
Endangered and critically threatened Caribbean birds
There are a number of vulnerable, endangered and critically threatened birds in the Caribbean. Several species of the Caribbean Amazon parrot are classified as being vulnerable, including the St Lucia Amazon and St Vincent Amazon, as well as the nocturnal West Indian Whistling Duck which hides in mangroves and wooded areas during the day. Endangered birds include the blackbird (yellow shouldered, Jamaican, and the bay breasted cuckoo. Critically threatened is the Oriole (Bahama & Montserrat), the Puerto Rican Amazon, Cuba kite, Grenada Dove, Ridgway’s Hawk and the Zapata Rail.
Countries where you can volunteer to help with Caribbean wildlife conservation projects
BAHAMAS wildlife – marine conservation; reef survey; track and observe whales and dolphins (Abaco Island)
BELIZE wildlife – native mammal, amphibian and bird species; rescued animals; reef conservation research; lionfish monitoring and control; queen conch and lobster surveys; coral watch data collection; sea turtle patrols
CARRIACOU wildlife – marine conservation (reef buddy volunteer)
COSTA RICA wildlife – monitor marine turtle population; wildlife bird conservation (protecting endangered macaws); rainforest conservation; Pacific sea turtle project; biological research station (mammal research and environmental education; butterfly, crocodile, sea turtle)
CUBA wildlife – bat conservation; marine conservation
GRENADA wildlife – leatherback sea turtle research and education
HONDURAS wildlife: Utila Island – critically endangered Utila spiny-tailed iguana project
MONTSERRAT wildlife – marine and terrestrial projects
PUERTO RICO wildlife – tropical rainforest management
ST EUSTATIUS (STATIA) wildlife – sea turtle monitoring and tagging; red billed tropic bird conservation research; National Parks conservation
ST LUCIA wildlife – conservationists and biologists opportunities
TRINIDAD wildlife – night beach patrol looking for leatherback sea turtles
TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS wildlife – humpback whale research
For more detailed information on what’s going on in any Caribbean destination you will find a list of Caribbean Tourism Contacts and links on that dedicated page in the Discover section.
Links to Caribbean wildlife & marine life articles you might find of interest
Within the wonderful mix of islands that make up the Caribbean, lies one of the most varied and well-preserved ecosystems on the…
Panama was named after an indigenous word meaning “abundance of fish”. This beautiful Central America paradise is one of the few…
Not only is Barbuda home to one of the biggest Magnificent Frigate Bird colonies in the world, but the island also boasts its own…
Protect & conserve the diverse Caribbean wildlife
St Thomas USVI
Images on this Caribbean Wildlife Conservation page are copyright of www.linda-jackson.co.uk, Discover Dominica Authority/Randy Kerr (turtle), Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (blue iguana, West Indian whistling duck), St Lucia Tourist Board (Oriole), EcoCircuitos Panama (diving), Antigua & Barbuda Tourist Office (Barbuda birdwatching)