Cayería Centro-Oriental de Villa Clara IBA is located in the
Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago, and represents a group of cays
off the north coast of Villa Clara province. The IBA embraces
several cays including Cobos, Francés, Las Brujas, Ensenachos,
Fragoso, and Santa María. These are flat cays, with diverse
natural features including coastal evergreen forest, coastal scrub,
mangroves, coral reefs, and sandy beaches. The towns of
Caibarién, Camajuaní, and Encrucijada are close to but outside
of the IBA.
This IBA supports globally significant breeding colonies of
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla, Royal Tern Sterna maxima,
Sandwich Tern S. sandvicensis, Common Tern S. hirundo and
Least Tern S. antillarum. The area is a wintering site for the Near
Threatened Piping Plover Charadrius melodus and there are also
unconfirmed reports of Brown Noddy Anous stolidus breeding.
A wide diversity of waterbirds use this area including the
Vulnerable West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea.
Non-bird biodiversity: The Critically Endangered eared hutia Mesocapromys auritus
is endemic to Cayo Fragoso. The lizard Anolis pigmaequestris
is endemic to Cayo Francés. The most diverse coral reef of the
Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago is within the IBA. Of the 248
plant species present, 29 are endemic.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The Lanzanillo-Pajonal-Fragoso Wildlife Refuge (the only
protected area approved in the IBA) and the Las Loras Wildlife
Refuge are managed by the Empresa para la Protección de la
Flora y la Fauna (ENPFF). The Maja-Español Inner Cays and
Francés-Español Outer Cays wildlife refuges have only been
proposed and lack management. Portions of the Santa María-
Los Caimanes National Park as well as the Buenavista Biosphere
Reserve are within the IBA and are managed by the Ministry of
Science Technology and Environment. Threats to the IBA
include habitat destruction, fragmentation, disturbance, gas
emissions, dust, and introduced species. Beach tourists cause
disturbance to C. melodus and construction-related habitat loss
might affect species such as Bahama Mockingbird Mimus
gundlachii and Great Lizard-cuckoo Saurothera merlini
santamariae. Furthermore, local fishermen harvest eggs and
chicks of gulls, cormorants and flamingos for food.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Cayería Centro - Oriental de Villa Clara. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 23/01/2021.