The passage of Hurricane Maria in September 2017, devastated Dominica significantly and has negatively impacted both humans and animals.
Properties were damaged and persons were displaced, same as animals; their homes devastated, their habitat and food source were dilapidated.
I can’t help but wonder how the wildlife fared? What the parrots, agouti, opossum, crabs and mountain chicken did when their homes were being flooded and hurricane-force winds destroy their natural habitat?
The biodiversity of Dominica suffered irreparable damage and this negatively affected Dominica’s Wildlife and their habitat.
The Government’s move to place a “no hunting ban” in light of the Independence season and reunion year is an excellent decision as it gives the wildlife a chance to recover and a chance to breed and repopulate.
More than 70% of tree cavities used by our endangered Parrots were destroyed, and crayfish impacted as the rivers overflowed their banks. Some habitats and species will never fully recover after devastatingly powerful hurricanes such as Maria and Irma.
Impacts of a storm or Hurricane can be broken down in stages:
Damaging Wind Forces;
Strong winds which damaged trees and the forest.
Floodwaters and strong winds can cause significant erosion to the island and the coastline. These beds are often important habitats for marine mammals, turtles, and fish. When these beds are damaged, these animals often have no place to birth their young and nest.
Strong winds can fatally damage trees and have the potential to greatly reduce the numbers of rare species eg. Sisserou parrot and Red-neck parrot.
In addition to destroying plants and erasing wildlife habitats, hurricanes can have a major impact on the fishing industries.
In order for us to continue enjoying theses wildlife tomorrow, it’s important that we conserve them today and use our natural resources in a sustainable manager.
As we seek to be the first climate resilient country, we must also care for our wildlife as they play a great importance in making us the Nature Isle.
Machel Sulton is Amphibian Technician/ Forester ll (A.g), at the Ministry of Environment, Climate Resilience and Urban Renewal, Forestry, Wildlife & Parks Division.