COMMENTARY: Indigenous, non-avian fauna on Coat of Arms of Caribbean territories

The MOUNTAIN CHICKEN or CRAPAUD/KWAPO is one of several species of indigenous fauna that appear on Coats of Arms of Caribbean Territories. Photo by AJames

The indigenous species of avian fauna (birds) that feature on the Coats of Arms of various Caribbean Territories were presented in an article posted DNO by this writer at the end of July 2022.

Attention is now being directed to the Coat of Arms of Caribbean Territories that feature non-avian, indigenous fauna found in terrestrial and marine habitats.

It will be observed that some of the Territories’ Coat of Arms feature at least one lion, but that beast is not found in this part of the world.

A quick peek at the non-avian fauna that feature on the various Coats of Arms reveal one amphibian, a mollusc, a marine crustacean, reptiles, marine fish, and several mammals. The territories are presented below in alphabetical order.

*Anguilla, an internally self-governing Caribbean Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, and once part of the three-island (St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla) State Association with Great Britain, has adopted a Coat of Arms that prominently features on the shield three orange-coloured unidentified dolphins (mammal) in a circle jumping over the sea.

DOLPHIN off Dominica’s West Coast. Anguilla is the only Caribbean Territory with a marine mammal on its Coat of Arms. Photo by AJames

*The twin-island state of Antigua and Barbuda in the Leeward Islands features a pair of fallow deer as the supporters of the shield of their Coat of Arms.

*The three-island British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands features a green turtle (coloured dark green) at the very top of their Coat of Arms.

*The Coat of Arms of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas features a queen conch at the top, and a marlin as the left supporter of the shield.

*The Coat of Arms of Barbados, the Land of the Flying Fish features a dolphin fish (mahi mahi, called ‘dowad’ on Dominica) as the left supporter of the shield.

*The Nature Island, Dominica is one of the Caribbean territories that features more than one species of indigenous wild fauna on its Coat of arms. A crapaud – spelt Kwapo in Kwéyòl – or Mountain Chicken (Leptodactylus fallax) features in the upper-right quadrant of the shield of our Coat of Arms. Our Coat of Arms also includes a lion at the very top, but for purposes of this presentation, lions on Caribbean Territories’ Coat of Arms will be generally disregarded except in a couple of cases.

*French Guiana, also known as Guyane – the only Overseas French Department in South America, features a pair of anteaters as the supporters of the shield on their Coat of Arms.

*Grenada, the Spice Isle of the Caribbean, features a mine-banded armadillo as the supporter on the right side of their Coat of Arm’s shield. Interestingly Grenada’s Coat of Arms features not just one lion, but two of these beasts.

*Guyana, home of the world-famous Kaieteur Falls (482 metres or 1,581 ft tall), features a pair of jaguars as the supporters of the shield of their Coat of Arms. Remember the ‘Guyana Jaguars’ team in Caribbean franchise cricket.

*Jamaica, the birth place of Reggae music and the legendary Bob Marley (deceased), features an American crocodile at the very top of their Coat of Arms.

*Although the neighbouring Overseas French Department of Martinique does not have an official Coat of Arms per se, the Department’s Regional Assembly adopted a distinctive logo to represent the island. That logo features four (4) fer-de-lance vipers (Bothrops asper) one in each of the quadrants of the logo. In the Caribbean, the fer-de-lance snake is only found on Martinique and St. Lucia.

*The US Territory of Puerto Rico has a somewhat unique Coat of Arms which features a sheep (representing the Lamb of God) and several lions. Although neither of these animals are indigenous to the Caribbean, this Coat of Arms is presented for interest.

*Saba, “the Rock”, one of the Dutch Antillean islands in the Northern Leewards, features an unnamed species of fish on their Coat of Arms.

*Sint Eustatius, a Special Municipality of the Netherlands and one of the Northern Leeward Islands has included an angelfish in the lower of the three parts of their Coat of Arms.

*The Caribbean British Overseas Territory of Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI), which comprises eight inhabited Islands and over 30 smaller islands and cays, feature two marine invertebrates on their Coat of Arms, viz. a lobster and a queen conch. 

The QUEEN CONCH features on the Coat of Arms of Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Islands. Photo by AJames

*Venezuela, the largest South American country bordering the Caribbean Sea, prominently features a feral white horse in the lower of the three sections of their Coat of Arms.

REMARKS: The individual territories of the wider Caribbean vary in size and governing status from large, independent self-governing countries, to small overseas territories of European powers, viz. Great Britain, France and Holland. The majority of these Caribbean territories have adopted their own unique Coat of Arms (and logo) that feature non-avian terrestrial or marine fauna, from snakes and jaguars to a frog; from marine fish to dolphins to a lobster; from a crocodile to a turtle; and from a queen conch to deer and some other terrestrial mammals. This is all testimony to the rich and diverse fauna of the wider Caribbean.

Readers who may be interested in seeing what these various Coats of Arms look like are invited to do some searches on Google Images. Thanks to Dave Williams for providing the conch shell for photographing, and to “Neckers” for other conch shell photos.

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