Haiti, located on the island of Hispaniola, is the third-largest country in the Caribbean.
It’s a mountainous region featuring a tropical climate.
Haiti has one of the world’s longest coastlines, thanks to its unique shape.
As such, the country can be easily called a true natural gem, hosting numerous unique animal species.
Unfortunately, many of them are now considered endangered, primarily due to habitat loss.
It is believed that 60% of Haiti was covered in forests 50 years ago.
Currently, only 30% represents forested areas, meaning that animals have lost much of their natural habitat and are struggling to survive.
However, habitat destruction isn’t the only issue; human actions also contribute to animal population decline.
As such, without further ado, let’s discover some endangered species found in Haiti, as it might help contribute to conservation efforts!
5. Hispaniolan Hutia
The Hispaniolan hutia, otherwise known as Plagiodontia aedium, is a rodent found only in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where it lives in trees or burrows.
It has brown-grayish fur and a scaly, almost hairless tail.
The species was assessed as endangered in 2008, but its link to the IUCN Red List goes way back.
The Hispaniolan hutia was first assessed as rare in 1990 and, subsequently, vulnerable in 1996.
It is estimated that ten years from now, their population will have suffered a reduction of over 50%.
Even though scientists believe their population is decreasing, little is known about this species’ exact location.
Recent surveys, however, showed that they lived in isolated areas in Haiti, near Massif de la Hotte.
Primary threats to their population include habitat loss.
Unfortunately, even protected areas suffer destruction, leading to a further decrease in population numbers.
Besides this, invasive species like cats, dogs, and mongooses are major threats, as Hispaniolan hutias serve as prey for them.
4. La Hotte Glanded Frog
Also known as the Doris’ robber frog, the Eleutherodactylus glandulifer is a frog species found only in Haiti, more precisely in the Massif de la Hotte, a mountain range in the southwestern part of the country.
These frogs live in closed canopy forest area and are renowned for their unique eye color – a unique blue sapphire!
Unfortunately, the species was assessed as critically endangered in 2020 because specialists suspect a population decline estimated to reach more than 80% by 2025.
This significant decrease is associated with the severe habitat destruction of the species’ natural range, the Massif de la Hotte and, more precisely, the Pic Macaya National Park.
This is happening because of logging and slash-and-burn agriculture.
Consequently, while the species was historically found at lower altitudes as well, they now live only in isolated places at altitudes of more than 3,937 feet.
Another major threats are human-caused fires. Their frequency is further increased by climate change.
Despite these, little conservation efforts are in motion, and additional research and active management of the frogs’ natural habitat are required.
3. Ricord’s Rock Iguana
The Ricord’s rock iguana is part of the Cyclura genus of lizards.
The species is found only in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where it lives in hot, dry, wooded savannas.
These reptiles have a grayish-green body and feature distinctive chevrons, which are alternatively colored in pale gray, dark gray or black.
The species was listed as endangered in 2018, and its population is still decreasing.
Only about 3,000-4,000 mature individuals are left, mostly in the Dominican Republic.
Only around 50 of Ricord’s rock iguanas are believed to be left in Haiti.
Their population is threatened primarily by habitat degradation, which is caused by charcoal production, agricultural use, sand and limestone mining, and harvesting hardwoods.
Hurricanes pose another major threat to their habitat.
Besides this, invasive species like feral dogs and cats, as well as pigs, prey on these iguanas, while mammalian herbivores like cows and goats serve as competition for food.
Although these reptiles aren’t typically hunted for food or trade, it is still known that they are captured opportunistically within their range.
The Ricord’s rock iguana is protected from trade in the Dominican Republic.
In Haiti, however, little is known about their protective legislation.
2. Ridgway’s Hawk
The Ridgway’s hawk is a critically endangered bird of prey found only in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
It’s a medium-sized hawk with brown-grayish plumage on the upper parts, grayish barred underparts, and a black-and-white tail.
The legs are yellow, as is the base of the bill. The bird usually measures around 14.1 – 16.1 inches long.
The IUCN Red List has been assessing these birds since 1988, when they first became threatened.
From 1994 until 1996, the species was listed as endangered.
Since 2000 onward, however, it has been repeatedly assessed as critically endangered.
Luckily, their population is increasing nowadays thanks to numerous conservation efforts.
The main threat to this species’ population is habitat loss caused by deforestation for agriculture.
Direct persecution, human disturbance (burning nest trees, intentional killing of nestlings, throwing rocks), as well as poor weather and parasitic infestations of Philornis pici, were other factors that contributed to the decline.
Over three generations, meaning around 24.5 years, the Ridgway’s hawk population is believed to have suffered a reduction of around 80%.
Today, however, it is estimated that at least 427 birds are left, of which 322 are mature individuals.
Although this number might not seem too large, the situation is much better now, considering that some populations registered a 105% increase over eight years.
1. Black-Capped Petrel
Otherwise known as the diablotín, the black-capped petrel is a seabird with distinctive plumage coloration – it’s grayish-brown on the upper parts and wings, white on the underparts.
It features a white nape and rump and a black cap.
The IUCN Red List first assessed the species as endangered in 1994, and it remained so until today.
It is now present in the Dominican Republic and Haiti during the breeding season and flies to Costa Rica and the United States during the non-breeding season.
It has also been observed in Panama, but there’s no specific information regarding seasonality.
Historically, the black-capped petrel lived in Guadeloupe and Martinique as well, but it is now possibly extinct there.
Only around 2,000–4,000 mature birds are left within their range, and their population constantly decreases due to habitat loss.
This, in turn, is caused by frequent fires, farming, and cattle ranching.
Moreover, species mortality is increased by electric lights and electric communication towers.
The International Black-capped Petrel Conservation Group manages the communication between researchers concerned with conservation efforts for this species.
Moreover, several conservation actions have been proposed to help further stabilize the black-capped petrel population.