Special Flora & Fauna
The vegetation of the island is characterised by its adaptation to the dry and windy climatic conditions.
Total vascular flora amounts to about 450 species. Species composition differs significantly between the different geological formations and Stoffers described a dozen different
vegetation types for the island. Vegetation’s of the Curaçao Lava Formation are characterised as largely deciduous vegetation’s in which trees such as Bursera bonairiensis, Bourreria
succulenta, Caesalpinia coriaria, Cordia alba, Hematoxylon brasiletto, Randia aculeata and Malpighia glabra are common.
The vegetation’s of calcareous formations are largely characterised as evergreen formations with such trees as Bumelia obovata, Casearia tremulans, Coccoloba swartsii, Condalia
henriquezii, Guayacum sanctum and Metopium brownei.
Columnar cacti (part. Stenocereus griseus, and Subpilocereus repandus) play a prominent role in both deciduous and evergreen formations.
The most common species of disturbed areas are the thorny tree Acacia tortuosa, the grass Aristida adscencionis, the shrub Croton flavens, the prickly pear Opuntia wentiana and
the introduced rubber vine Cryptostegia grandiflora.
Recent work indicates that the impact of centuries of uncontrolled grazing by livestock on the species composition of the vegetation of the island, has been large.
A total of 11 native mammals are found on Curaçao. These are the Curaçao White-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus curassavicus, the mouse Baiomys hummelincki, the cotton-tail Silvilagus floridensis nigronuchalis and eight species of bats.
The deer, the cotton-tail and four species of bats are endemic to the Leeward Dutch Antilles at the subspecies level, while the mouse Baiomys is endemic at species level. The deer and all bats are endangered species. Recent work has shown the key role that nectivorous bats play in the terrestrial ecosystem as the only principal pollinators of columnar cacti which are a key food source for many species during dry periods.
A total of 26 land and freshwater molluscs have been reported, two of which are endemic to Curaçao (Guppya molengraaffi, Tudora rupis) and six of which are endemic to the Leeward Dutch Antilles and adjacent Venezuelan islands (Brachipodella raveni, Cerion uva, Cistulops raveni, Gastrocopta octonaria, Microceramus banairiensis, Tudora megacheilos).
Most species are associated with calcareous geological formations and several show significant morphological shell variation between different parts of the island.
More than a 168 bird species have been recorded from Curaçao. At least 51 are breeding birds, 71 are migrants from North America, 19 are visitors from South America and 19 are seabirds.
Two subspecies of birds are restricted to Curaçao, namely, the Parakeet Aratinga pertinax pertinax and the Barn Owl, Tyto alba bargei. Fourteen other birds are endemic to the Leeward Dutch Antilles (and nearby Venezuelan islands) at subspecies level.
Endangered breeding birds include the Barn Owl, the Caracara, Polyborus plancus, the White-tailed Hawk, Buteo albicaudatus, the Scaly-naped Pigeon, Columba squamosa, and several species of tern (Sterna spp.).
Nine species of native reptiles are found on Curaçao, two of which are snakes and seven of which are lizards. Of these latter, four are endemic to the Leeward Dutch Antilles at species level. These are Anolis lineatus, Cnemidophorus murinus, Gymnodactylus antillensis, and Phyllodactylus martini.
Four types of sea turtles are common in our waters: the Green Turtle, the Hawksbil turtle, the Loggerhead and the Leatherback turtle. The first three mentioned also make use of our beaches to lay their eggs. A few small beaches located at the protected area Shete Boka Park are regularly being used by turtles.