An Aruba without Troupial, Prikichi, Patrushi or Shoco?

By David Wege, Wed, 11/08/2010 - 13:11

Invasive Boa constrictor serious threat to Aruba’s beloved bird populations!

The presence of the invasive Boa constrictor was first documented in Aruba in April of 1999. Ever since, the numbers of boas caught by the Park Rangers has been impressive. Hundreds are caught each year and only those seen in areas frequented by persons who then notify the Rangers for their assistance. It is safe to presume that a multifold of those caught actually live in Aruba’s wildlife.

Quite some places in the world have been confronted with invasive snake situations. The saddest being that of the Brown Three Snake in Guam. Insufficient action was taken to keep the snake’s population under control. The consequences now are that several endemic species of animals, including birds have become extinct.

Scientists, up to this day, have no off-the-shelf solution for such undesired intrusions. Many researches are being conducted and the hope is that one day they might find an effective and efficient solution. Reality of the matter is that if we take a passive stance in Aruba towards the boa while waiting for others to come with a solution, that we will live to regret it. Such a day may come sooner than we could imagine. The boa gets more offspring than the Brown Three Snake.

Aruba Birdlife Conservation is in discussion with Parke Nacional Arikok (a Key Biodiversity Area for the Critically Endangered Aruba Island Rattlesnake Crotalus unicolor) on developing a practical plan to keep the boa numbers in check. In the coming weeks we hope to present at least a temporary solution to help save our birds and other fauna species. We are also working on an analysis of the estimated impact of the boa on our bird populations and we hope to publish these findings shortly.

The scenario that one day in our future an Aruban grandmother has to explain to her grandchildren that we used to have birds named Troupial, Prikichi, Patrushi and Shoco, but that since the boa got loose in our wildlife they have became extinct because we did nothing about it, is simply not an acceptable story. We must act soon or regret later.

Pictures

The pictures were taken on August 10, 2010, at 7:00 a.m., and demonstrate how a Boa constrictor laying in ambush on a branch catches and devours a Yellow Oriole that unfortunately landed on that location (in Papiamento a Gonzalito or also a Trupial Kachó, in Dutch ‘Gele Troepiaal’; scientific: Icterus nigrogularis ). This beautiful bird is classified in Aruba as a ‘scarce breeding resident’. From catching the bird, constricting it and devouring it whole, head first, took less than 15 minutes. The Park Rangers later caught the snake.

The pictures were taken by Greg Peterson, president of Aruba Birdlife Conservation.


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Comments

I hear they make fine boots and jackets!

This is terrible news! Exotic invasive boids are awful! Look at what Indian pythons are doing in Florida.There needs to be systematic eradication effort -- soon!

This is so terrible that this animal Boa) did invade Aruba. The people of Aruba need to get more involved to get rid of this snake, the Boa is NOT an native of the Island, it was introduced to the Island by individuals bringing them to Aruba as a pet." WHAT A MISTAKE " the Rangers of the Arikok Park need to destroy this nasty animals, if there is any hope for our fauna, make boots out of them or shoes, i got a pair of shoes already. Segeant: Pascual Ras. US ARMY Retired.

Put a bounty on the Boa The island has many chefs. Perhaps they can create a boa burger or ...Boa jerky. Export their skins. Anything Aruba can export would be a plus.

The name of the wormsnake is: Leptotyphlops albifrons, Wagler, 1824 Frans Vermeulen

Just read that volunteers are sought to go and find the boa`s. Think that is the only way and have to agree with the experts (Greg Peterson and Arikok rangers). Search and destroy. Where can we sign up to assist ? Guess there will be a lot of locals too whom would be willing to spend some time in the kunuku. Maybe a cash bounty for each dead animal delivered to the Arikok rangers would be possible ? Will at least make a nice incentive for some folks. Offcourse Mr.Mike Eman and his responsible minister will have to cough up some dough to fund this !!!!

On a recent visit to the ostrich farm, we spotted movement in the brush which turned out to be a boa constrictor that had a juvenile iguana in its grasp. We pointed this out to the tour guide who dispatched the boa with a shovel. Happily, the iguana escaped and gave us a coupon for a free lunch at Iguana Joe's. We were told that it is uncertain whether this invasive and destructive species came in as pets, or hidden in imported goods.

This is terrible yet common news (which makes it even more terrible). The problem is how to manage such a population of snakes? Sometimes simply hunting the invasive species all year round is not the optimal choice, as is the case with the Rotvos in the Netherlands.Where hunting actually caused their litter sizes to increase (a survival mechanism). The rotvos in the Netherlands is also a threat to different bird species. As the writer of this article claims; more research needs to be done in order to find a solution for optimal management of the population of the invasive species "the Boa".

What about training some dogs to smell and search for boas ? In Calabas a dog is just doing that very efective.

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