The National Parks of The Bahamas

Inagua National Park

Established: 1965
Size: 183,740 Acres

287 square miles of Great Inagua Island, now internationally known as the world\'s largest breeding colony(approx. 50,000) of West Indian flamingos. In 1997 the Inagua National Park was recognized as a wetland of International Importance as the Bahamas became a signatory of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Inagua's interior gives way to Lake Windsor and it is here among the cays and mangrove stands that Tri-colored Herons, Great Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, Brown Pelicans, White Cheeked Pintails and West Indian Whistling Ducks can be found. A multitude of avifauna reside and/or winter in Inagua and the island is truly a birdwatcher's haven.






Established: 1965
Size: 183,740 Acres

Description 
The Inagua National Park is about one hours’ drive from Matthew Town and covers 183,740 acres of Great Inagua. Birdlife dominates the park and the flamingo, the national bird of the Bahamas is its star attraction. Inagua National park is the site of the largest breeding colony of west Indian Flamingos in the world. Today the population numbers approximately 60,000 after having made a 40 year journey back from the edge of extinction. 


History 
As early as 1905, concern for the West Indian flamingo in the Caribbean was intense. The flamingos were hunted for their meat and residents of islands close to nesting areas would raid the colonies, especially for the squabs. Flamingos were also hunted for their plumage. Wild pigs that were introduced by early settlers fed by the birds’ eggs and young and so they acquired a taste for ‘flamingo’. Ironically the final blow was given them by Royal Air Force Polits, who took to buzzing the colonies for fun, sending flocks dashing for cover and permanently frightening some away. 

By the 1950’s a close working relationship had been established between the National Audubon Society and The Bahamas. Concerned with the sudden decline in the flamingo population during the early years of that decade. Audubon sent is then research director, Robert Porter Allen, to Inagua in an attempt to prevent the birds fast approaching extinction. Allen arrived in Inagua in the spring of 1952. Sam Nixon, the best hunter and guide on Inagua, took Allen to the Upper Lakes of Inagua where they found more than a thousand flamingos “commulating” as Nixon had promised they would. The birds massed in that riotous courtship ritual of head turing, wing flicking, and exaggerated strutting that Allen called “the Flamingo Quadrille”. Here, Allen realized was a breeding colony in isolation from which the diminishing flamingo pop might be replenishing. 

The society for the Protection of the Flamingo in The Bahamas was formed, made up of a number of American and Bahamian Conservationists. The new society appointed Sam Nixon the first flamingo warden on Great Inagua. Later in 1952, Jimmy Nixon became his assistant. Allen designed and built the little camp on Long Cay and named it for Author Vernay, the first president on the new Society. 

Another positive step was the creation of the Bahama National Trust by an Act of Parliament in 1959. As the official organization responsible for wildlife protection and national park management, the Trust took over the work of the old society of the protection of the flamingo. The Trust, learning a lesson from the disappearance of the flamingos from Andros, has made the air space above the Inagua National Park a restricted area with fights not being allowed below 2,000 feet. Today, the BNT warden Henry Nixon patrol the Park and protect the flamingos. 


Importance to Biodiversity 
Wildlife: While the environment of Inagua may be hostile to human habitation, it is perfect for birds and other wildlife. Many people travel to the southernmost island to see flamingos, but are surprised and delighted to see a multitude of other birds and wildlife as well. The native Bahama parrot, the endemic Bahama Woodstar Hummingbird, White Cheeked Pintails, Brown Pelicans, Tri-colored herons, Snowy egrets, Reddish egrets, Western Spindalis, Cormorants, Roseeate Spoonbills, American kestrels, and Burrowing owls abound in the Park’s interior. Birds however are not the Parks only treasure. Wild Donkeys trot amongst the mangroves, freshwater terrapins inhabit the ponds, and bonsai forests grace its interior. 

Repopulation: The success of the Inagua National Park is evident in the repopulating of other Caribbean islands by the Inagua population. Scientists are aware of the connection between Cuba and Inagua as well as healthy flamingo colonies on the Turks and Caicos Islands and Grand Cayman as well as then repopulating of Crooked Island and Acklins Island by the Inagua flamingos. 


Ramsar Convention 
in 1997 The Bahamas became the 99th party to the Ramsar Convention on wetlands. At the same time, the Inagua National Park was designated a wetland of international importance. Once seen as wetlands, wetlands are now considered fundamental to the world’s ecology as regulators of water regimes and as habitats for a wide variety of plants and animals, especially waterfowl. They are viewed as a resource of great economic, cultural and scientific value, the loss of which would be irreparable. 


Industry 
Morton salt company produces salt by solar evaporation in the vast flat salt pans or reservoirs that criss cross the Inagua landscape. It is a two year process as seawater is gradually circulated from pan to pan. In time algae, fostered by the flamingo droppings, grows in the water and darkens it. This hastens evaporation by absorbing more sunlight. Then the tiny brine shrimp begin feeding on algae cleaning the water. And the flamingos feed on the shrimp until the salt is ready for harvesting, leaving everyone tickled pink!

 

Links to the Image Gallery will be provided here

Abaco National Park
Established on May 9, 1994, the Abaco National Park comprises 20,500 Acres in Southern Abaco. Included in this area is 5,000 Acres of pine forest, the major habitat of the Bahama Parrot.
Black Sound Cay National Reserve
Located off Green Turtle Cay in Abaco, this miniature park comprises a thick stand of mangrove vegetation and is an important habitat for waterfowl and Other avifauna which winter in the region.
Blue Holes National Park
Andros has the highest concentration of Blue Holes in the world. Exposed to the elements over thousands of years, the island’s limestone bedrock eroded creating this vast expanse of underwater cave systems. These caves have been found to house many unusual and unique cave fish and invertebrates, some not found anywhere else in the world.
Bonefish Pond
Bonefish Pond is 1280 acres of coastal wetland area. This is a snorkeling tour where teachers and students alike can see and learn about the different marine life that call Bonefish pond home.
Conception Island National Park
An important sanctuary for migratory birds, sea birds and green turtles. It also has great historical importance being one of the islands in the Bahamas on which Christopher Columbus was known to have landed.
Crab Replenishment Reserve
Identified as the best land crab habitat in central Andros, this area was set aside to ensure a sustainable crab population for future generations.
Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park
Created in 1958 this 176 square mile park was the first of its kind in the world and is famous for its pristine beauty, outstanding anchorages and breathtaking marine environment. It is the first marine fishery reserve established in the Caribbean.
Fowl Cays National Park
The new Fowl Cays National Park is a 1,920-acre reserve that is conveniently reached from most central Abaco Cays and settlements. The park has steadily become attractive to scuba divers and is an extremely popular area for local boating and snorkeling. The reefs and three 25' to 40' dive spots in untouched water are renowned.
Harrold and Wilson Ponds National Park
Located in South Central New Providence, Harrold and Wilson Ponds encompasses 250 Acres. More than 100 avian species , including the island's highest concentration of herons, egrets, ibises and cormorants have been identified there, providing confirmation that the area is indispensable habitat for bird life in New Providence. An exceptional educational and ecotourism site, a stone's throw from the nation’s capital and tourism hub, these areas are an invaluabl
Hope Great House
Located on the west coast of Crooked Island a mile northeast of Landrail Point, these two Loyalist compounds include an artillery battery and plantation house with kitchen. These well preserved historic properties were handed over to the Bahamas National Trust by Herbert A. McKinney.