Internships/thesis at Bonaire starting Oct.-Dec. 2014
Travel and accommodation costs fully reimbursed
- Grazer impact control and recovery Washington-Slagbaai National Park
- Feral livestock density, distribution and removal rate
- Goat impact and vegetation response to grazer exclusion
- Species composition, population structure, density distribution and health status of the columnar cacti of the WSNP.
Within the Caribbean Netherlands overgrazing by goats is considered the most serious threat to the terrestrial ecosystems. Goats are the most adaptable of the introduced grazers in ecosystems that have never had large herbivores. Aside from Klein Curacao and Klein Bonaire, where goats have been eradicated, and the Christoffel park of Curacao where goats are structurally controlled by shooting, this herbivore is a threat to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning on all of the islands of the Caribbean portions of the Dutch Kingdom (Coblentz 1980). Goat grazing totally alters the original orchid and bromeliad ground vegetation native to these islands into cactus and acacia thorn scub (Debrot and de Freitas 1993). On Bonaire the situation is extremely acute and many tree species are no longer able to regenerate young plants. Many plants species have likely already died out but many more will likely follow if measures are not taken (Lo Fo Wong and de Jongh 1994, Proosdij 2001, Freitas et al. 2005). While the problem has long been recognized, up to now little concrete action has taken place to address this problem. Thanks to Dutch government funding, STINAPA is now in a position address this problem in the Washington-Slagbaai National Park and plans to bring goat density in portions of the park down to a target density of 0.1 animal per hectare.
The intervention proposed will be to set up a permanent system of fencing, exclosures, and traps for goat removal. These will be operated under guidance of an experienced goat catcher with locally trained and motivated forces for several seasons until goat density is brought down to 0.1 goat per hectare. By then, local forces will be able to use the same strategy and techniques to keep goat populations under control at no cost to STINAPA.
During the whole project, data will be collected on the caught animals (number, weight, sex, approx. age and location), on catch per unit effort, on the vegetation development using the BACI experimental design to give good documentation on removal success and vegetation recovery brought about by removal. The fieldwork for this will be formulated as 3 or more internships.
All activities take place under formal responsibility of STINAPA as main problem and project owner. IMARES and Carmabi have the task of coordinating and guiding the research. Student travel and housing costs financed by STINAPA. Housing is in the park. Each team of 2 students has one team member that also has a drivers licence.
Begin: Starting October - December 2014
Duration: 1 preparation, 2-4 months fieldwork and data entry on Bonaire. Afterwords, working up the results for reporting under guidance by IMARES and Carmabi.
Coblentz, B.E., 1980. Goat problems in the national parks of the Netherlands Antilles. 16 pp.
Debrot, A. O. and J. A. de Freitas. 1993. A comparison of ungrazed and livestock-grazed rock vegetation in Curaçao. Biotropica 25: 270-280.
Freitas, J. A. de, B. S. J. Nijhof, A. C. Rojer and A. O. Debrot. 2005. Landscape ecological vegetation map of the island of Bonaire (Southern Caribbean). Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam. 64 pp. (+ maps)
Lo Fo Wong, A.M.E. & J. de Jong 1994. Aspecten van natuurbeheer op Bonaire: Verslag van een stage natuurbeheer in het Nationaal Park Washington-Slagbaai op Bonaire, Nederlandse Antillen. Unpubl.thesis no: P259. Vakgroep Natuurbeheer, Landbouwuniversiteit Wageningen, The Netherlands, 66 pp.
Proosdij, A.S.J. van, 2001. Arnoldo’s zakflora: Wat in het wild groeit en bloeit op Aruba, Bonaire en Curaçao. Publ. Found. Sci. Res. Car. Reg. 144, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 287 pp.
OLB/STINAPA. 2014. Project plan Goat eradication and control in Washington Slagbaai National Park. 10 pp + app.