COMMENTARY: Preserving Dominica’s Biodiversity and the effects of Natural Disaster on our Wildlife

A plant in Dominica. File photo

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.

Coastal Wetlands;
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.

Forest Areas;
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.

Opinions expressed in this commentary are not necessarily those of Dominica News Online or its advertisers.


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  1. Badbaje
    October 18, 2018

    Very well said. I too am in agreement with the announcement of putting off the hunting this year, in an effort to give the wildlife an equal chance to recover as we plan our own recovery efforts.

    Thanks again to those who contributed to that decision making.

  2. Ibo France
    October 17, 2018

    Anything about the trafficking of the indigenous birds? Doesn’t this action have a negative impact on the biodiversity of Dominica? Isn’t it unlawful? Can you shed some light on the present status of these parrots? The people’s concerns don’t matter with this totalitarian regime, self aggrandizement is their preferred mode of operation.

  3. DEE
    October 17, 2018

    I just Visited Mexico and was amazed at millions of different young plants, being grown in safe houses over the years , for exactly that purpose , replenishing their forests . Millions and Millions of seeds, kept in the ideal condition , for sowing in the case of a disaster or disease . Specific species of animals protected by law , rules and regulations and bred to guarantee their existence . That’s what i call resilient . Believe me, i could catch a different agouti (lovely creature ) or iguana outside my room every day if i wanted to, they don’t fear humans there , That’s what i call nature at it’s best. Seeing is believing, such places embarrasses one when attempting to boast about Dominica. Friendliness comes naturally , no put on show just for tourists , Pride of country is first . Customer care and service is exemplary . They all deserve ”DOCTORATES”.

    • Ibo France
      October 18, 2018

      Hour comments are edifying and like oxygen to the lungs. What you have described is vision. As a society ours need to less abrasive, minder and gentler. What I find most disconcerting is the political fragmentation of the society by those in power strictly for ultra selfish motives. The focus in on self preservation by those in power while the country falls apart. Where are the voices of those in influential positions: the business community, the clergy, the fearless journalists, youth leaders, civic groups. Dominica needs astute and visionary leadership not what obtains at present.

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