Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Endemic species: a rare encounter on Union Island

The Union Island Environmental Attackers Bird Watching crew had a rare find today while hiking along the eco-trail above Chattam Bay, on the Western uninhabited portion of the Island. The humid forest with its craggy boulders is the only known location of a tiny, blue-spotted gecko, Gonatodes daudini, which is endemic to Union Island. The Attackers were lucky enough to spot the rare creature hidden in a narrow, crevice along the trail. They join the ranks of only a few dozen humans to have ever seen daudini.

Little is known about the tiny gecko, which was just described in 2005 after a discovery by Mark De Silva. With hard work, proper planning, and good luck, Union Island may be able to protect the one-of-kind gecko, and its unique forest-- a veritable Gem in the Grenadines. While the lizard and forest may not be a major attraction themselves, the key would be to link the disparate attractions together as a markable eco-tourism package: from bird-watching in Ashton Lagoon Mangrove, Salt from the Belmont Pond, turtle patrols in Bloody Bay, and forest ecology and endemic species along the once-maintained eco-trail. Union Island has plenty to offer visitors.

The Sustainable Grenadine Inc’s recently approved Ashton Lagoon Restoration Project will facilitate a tourism steering committee to orchestrate such a linked-up package, while another proposal is in the works for the National Trust.

Myself having seen the Island’s endemic species, can rest a bit more satisfied, having been involved with most of the islands more valuable natural systems. I’ve only a couple months left here, and too much work to do. I hope that others can carry the torch when I leave.

(Photo by Union Island Environmental Attacker, Stanton Gomes)

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