Lagon-aux-boeufs is a 450 hectare brackish estuary lake (20 per 1000) located at N 19 40' 39'' and W71 46' 53'' east of Fort-Liberté, in the coastal plain of Dauphin. Limited to the north by the Baie de Mancenille, east by the Massacre River and the town of Melliac, ouest by Dérac and south by the tertiary road to Melliac. Lagon-aux-Boeufs, together with the Fort-Liberté Bay and the Massacre River delta forms part of an ecoregion of outstanding value for waterfowls and marine birds. It can be considered as a natural extension of the Siete Hermano - Laguna Saladilla and Laguna Salinas of the Dominican Republic.
This small wetland is exploited by local fishermen, hunters for migratory ducks and coots, as well as recreation by school and youth groups. A number of farmers use it to clean and quench their cattle, and poor women for washing clothes. Population around this estuarine wetland is estimated at 20,000 people living also on fisheries, agriculture, charcoal making and occasionally boat rides. They are former employees and descendants of the sisal plantation and factory, attracted there by foreign investment during the mid 20th Century, and left alone after this facilities due to progress in plastic that replaced the traditional sisal ropes and bags.
Its proximity to Fort-Liberté and Ouanaminth as well as the agricultural infrastructures of the Fort-Dauphin sisal plantation offer an opportunity to develop a multiple use area as suggested to the state of Haiti in 1994 by the Route 2004 project.
The bird diversity of this lagoon is far higher than any other area surveyed in the coastal plain of the Northeast. The species diversity will also increase in winter months when migratory species arrive from northern latitudes and utilize the lagoon. Last inventory of July-August 1994 was made with binoculars only between 8:30 am to noon and 2pm to 4 pm twice. Early and nocturnal birds were not inventoried. A bird species of special concern is the flamingo. This species had not been scientifically reported in the area since 1948 (Ottenwalder et al. 1990). In addition, local people do not understand bagging birds. The rings are believed to be unnatural and mystic, therefore the scientific information they carry is unfortunately lost.
From surveys, fishermen and local riverines reported that men from Cap-Haitian come to hunt Flamingos for feathers and tongues (Flamingo tongue is considered a delicatessen since colonial time) and ducks (during the cool season).
Due to the fact that some rich businessmen from Cap-Haitian rented the land, in 2004 the much-degraded mangrove of 1994 grew back. In June 2004, Coots were reported to be hunted and sold in Fort-Liberté as a substitute to chicken or ducks that are more expensive (a coot was sold for 50 gourdes, a chicken for 200 gourdes). Interestingly enough, some coot consumers are members of environmental associations and don't make the difference between Caribbean and American coots that are both called "poule d'eau" (water chicken).
Besides, the surrounding dry forest and the close seashore provides with marine birds. The Bay of Fort-Liberté and coastal zone is home to many species. Birds use the shoreline habitat for homes and for foraging.
Non-bird biodiversity: American Crocodile
West Indian Manatees
West Indian Whistling Duck, Piping Plover, Caribbean Coot if confirmed.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Threats to the site have been divided in 4 ranks: very high, high, medium and low. The threats per rank will be mention followed by the source of it.
Very high threats are: habitat destruction (need for production area, economic growth, energy crisis and poverty); water pollution (incompatible water utilization (laundry, cattle drinking water)); introduced animals (cats, dogs, mongooses and rats behavior, grazing by cattle); surface water diversion (irrigation and industrial needs); fisheries (cray and shrimp anarchic fishing); fuelwood extraction (energy needs, prohibitive price of other source of cooking energy and non perishable product on demand); and soil compacting (cattle weight and frequency to the lake).
High threats are: elimination of bird species (competition for resources (fish eating birds) and illegal and non sustainable fishing); conversion to agriculture (food security program, national agricultural action plan, governmental priorities and international community fund availability); demography (demographic growth, accessibility to irrigated land and accessibility to free port zone); fishing practices (poverty and perception of an infinite resource, incompatible gear, and perception of a productive area for aquaculture); pollutant load (solid waste and garbage disposal); introduction of exotic species (food security program, increase of production area (fishery production, conversion of wetland into rice fields), drainage and perception of wetland as a useless space); and nutrient load (nutrient leaching from agriculture and lack of septic tanks).
Medium threats are: hunting (perception of infinite resource, inadequate regulations (incomplete MARNDR calendar, absence of bag limit per species, absence of enforcement)); and recreational activities (incompatible behaviors and absence of awareness/environmental education programs).
Low threats are: sedimentation (upper land erosion); and erosion (wind and rain).
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
In 1994, a multidisciplinary team composed by University of Paris, Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, Projet 2004, FAO, Ministry of Environment, University of Florida and Université Quisqueya were engaged to survey the Département du Nord-est coastal zone as a contribution to the protection of prehistorical and historical sites in their natural environment (for more details, see Atlas côtier du Nord'est d'Haïti). The results of the inventories stimulated University of Florida to assist the Ministry of Environment in filling a biosphere reserve nomination form was submitted to the Ministry of Environment for official application near UNESCO-MAB.
In 2004, the United Nations Development Program assisted the Ministry of Environment in producing with local participation, a departmental environmental action plan. Lagon-aux-boeufs, along with Baie de Mancenille and Baie de Fort-Liberté were identified as recreational areas and areas that should be protected (see Plan d'actions departemental pour l'environnement et le développement durable du Nord-est).
Protected area is only proposed.
Habitat and land use
The lagoon is a depression on quaternary coral reef located on the subtropical dry forest life zone. The surrounding large coastal plain was used before 1980 as a sisal plantation (Plantation Dauphin). Tree covers consist in scrubs and deciduous legumes such as Acacias, (Acacia acracantha and others), Mesquite (Prosopis juliflora), lignum vitae (Guayacum spp.), sea grapes (Coccoloba sp.) and other xerophytes (Ritteroccereus sp, Consolea sp.), (Table 1.). On the edge of the lagoon red, black and white mangrove provide shelter to a number of birds. The bottom of the lagoon contains algae and aquatic weeds (not inventoried). Around the lake, sisal, annual crops and grazing areas are found. Rice is the major crop, irrigated by the nearby Massacre River and Maribaroux irrigation system. Other annual crops are: corn, sweet potatoes, pigeon peas, cassava, papaya.
Table 1. Vegetation of the Lagon-aux-boeufs wetland
Alternanthera caracasana (Amaranthaceae); Aloe vera (Amarylidaceae); Agave intermixta (Amaryllidaceae); Metopium browneii (Anacardiaceae); Plumeria tubeculata (Apocynaceaee); Rhabdadenia biflora (Apocyneae); Chrystoptegia (Apocyneae); Batis mnaritima (Batidaceae); Bursera simaruba (Burceraceae); Opuntia sps (Cactaceae); Rittteroccereus sp (Cactaceae); Opuntia sps (Cactaceae); Leptocereus weingartianus (Cactaceae); Consolea sp (Cactaceae); Bucida buceras (Combretaceae); Laguncularia racemosa (Combretaceae); Conocarpus erectus (Combretaceae); Ambrosia velutina (Compositae); Atermisia absinthium (Compositeae); Ipomea-pes-caprae (Convolvulaceae); Weinmannia sp. (Cunoniaceae); Croton sps. (Euphorbiaceae); Jatropha gossypifolia (Euphorbiaceae); Chloris oxayana (Graminaea); Andropogon sp (Graminaea); Eragrostis hypnoides (Gramineae); Leptochloa filiformis (Gramineae); Acacia acracantha (Leguminoseae); Prosopis juliflora (Leguminoseae); Ceasalpinia coriaria (Leguminoseae); Pithecellobium unguis-cati (Leguminoseae); Bunchosia nitida (Malpighiaceae); Malpighia sp (Malpighiaceae); Abutilon sp (Malvaceae); Sida acuta (Malvaceae); Azadiracta indica (Meliaceaee); Ficus aurea (Moraceae); Cypselea humifusa (Phytollacaceae); Coccoloba uvifera (Polygonaceae); Coccoloba buchii (Polygonaceae); Portulaca sp (Portulacaceae); Rhyzophora mangle (Rhyzophoraceae); Guettarda spc (Rubiaceae); Amyris maritima (Rutaceae); Pouteria dictyoneura ssp. fuertesii (Sapotaceae); Suriana maritima (Simaroubaceae); Phyllostylon brasiliensis (Ulmaceae); Petitia domingensis (Verbenaceae); Lantana sp (Verbenaceae); Cissus cicyoides (Vitacea); Guayacum officinale (Zigophyllaceae); Guayacum sanctum (Zigophyllaceae).
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lagon-aux-Boeufs. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 02/02/2023.