Wildlife Watching in Aruba
Besides refreshing daylight, lustrous sand, aquamarine waters and delicious food, Aruba has another major attraction for the tourists, its wildlife. The most famous is the cottontail rabbit which has a black spot on its neck. This spot relates it back to Venezuela and dates back to the time where it was believed to be brought to the island by the pre-Columbians. Wild donkeys were also brought on this island by the Spanish and they are more common in the rocky areas. Goats and sheep on the other hand are found everywhere on the island. Hotels and restaurants usually put gratings by their entrance to discourage goats and sheep from entering the gardens. Goats also contribute in making tasty dishes that are a part of the Aruban cuisine.
Aruba is a permanent home to approximately 170 species of birds. In addition to that, every year around 130 species of birds migrate to Aruba and remain there temporarily till November and January. Prominent among these are the Trupiaal (a bright orange bird), the Barika Geel ( a tiny bird with a yellow belly that loves to eat sweet), and the Prikichi ( a parakeet that has a yellow head and green body). Towards the west of the island is the Bubali Bird Sanctuary. Numerous bird species are found there and mostly include cormorants, herons, fish eagles, waterfowls and scarlet ibis. Brown Pelicans are more common towards the southern shores. The endangered burrowing Owl, known as the Shoko, is more commonly found at Tierra del Sol Golf Course in north. The four keys, San Nicolas Bay Keys, located in the south eastern part are home to different species of tern. These include the black noddies, sooty terns and brown noddies which reside by the buttonwood trees.
Reptiles are also common here. There was a time when Iguana, from the lizard family, was hunted for making soups. Now the practice has been banned and termed illegal. Just like the chameleon, Iguana also changes its colour according to the environment. When between the plants they can turn green and when sitting on plain dirt they can turn earth brown. Pega Pega has feet with natural suction properties that allow it to grasp almost any surface. The Kododo Blauw, the whiptail lizard, is uniquely found in this island.
Talking of lizards, snakes cannot be left behind. There are two types of snakes that are only found on Aruba Island. The venomous Cascabel is a very distinctive species of rattlesnake but does not use its rattle. It is most commonly found in the areas of Mt. Yamanota, Fontein, and San Nicolas. The Santanero, a cat-eyed snake, though not poisonous, but is very furious by nature.
You can get a real idea of the diverse wildlife at Aruba by visiting the Arikok National Park. It covers almost 18 percent of the islands area and is a secure natural wilderness. Hiking tours are available at the park and guided tours can be booked at the park’s visitor information centre.
Even if you are not a nature lover or a wildlife enthusiast, you would surely not be able to resist the charm and beauty of all of the creatures living in Aruba. Pack up plenty of batteries and memory cards so you can just take plenty of shots which you can bring back home to show to your loved ones.