Conservation actions in the Dominican Republic have led to an increase from 300 to 450 of the the Hispaniola Hawk or Ridgway’s Hawk (Buteo ridwai), an endangered species, reports Diario Libre.
Marta Curti, a biologist of the La Hispaniola Hawk Project, said during a video conference that the numbers are more significant because they are evidence of the protection the species has found on the island. The Puntacana Ecological Foundation has led the effort, with the backing of the Peregrine Fund. The intention is now to take this conservation effort to other areas in the Dominican Republic and replicate the success.
Curti recalls that work began in 2000 with the first research on the sweeping bird. When The Peregrine Fund began investigating the Ridgway’s Hawk, only 250-300 remained. The bird’s habitat was getting lost to human development and the remaining population was just surviving in the Los Haitises National Park in the northeast of the country.
Habitat loss was just one of the many threats impacting Ridgway’s Hawks. The birds were also being shot by people to protect their chickens. To make matters worse, botfly infestations frequently killed nestlings, resulting in reproductive rates that could barely sustain this fragile population.
Conservation actions were many, backed by the Puntacana Ecological Foundation that even built an observatory to better follow the hawks. Now, the Puntacana Resort & Club offers guests guided excursions to observe the La Hispaniola Hawks.
Likewise, the project is educating school children, residents, and local communities about the plight of this species in order to raise awareness. Young community men are employed in the conservation efforts. The project includes training of local guides to facilitate bird-watching excursions, creating jobs and economic opportunities. “Bird tourism has a tremendous potential for species protection and job creation,” says lead conservationist for the Puntacana Group, Jake Kheel. Kheel is vice president of the Grupo Puntacana Foundation and vice president of sustainability for Grupo Puntacana.
1 April 2021