Washikemba - Fontein - Onima, Bonaire

Year of compilation: 2007

Site description
Area extending along coast inland to escarpments from Washikemba in the south to Playa Grandi in the north and including the natural springs and cliffs of Fontein and the cliffs and intermittent ponds at Washikemba, Onima dam, and inland from Playa Grandi. There is very limited human settlement in this area as it is generally on the more barren northeastern side of the island but it does include a number of sites of cultural and historic significance with ancient inscriptions of the original pre-European aboriginal inhabitants of Bonaire.

Key biodiversity
likely meets 1% global threshold for Yellow-shouldered Amazon, possibly Caribbean Coot occasionally • meets 1% regional threshold for Least Tern • breeding area for Pearly-eyed Thrasher and suite of thorn scrub species Surveys of Least Terns in 2002 documented 452 birds (>10% of regional population) within this IBA along the eastern coast from near Boca Onima south to near Washikemba. Caribbean Coot, has been documented as an intermittent breeder largely at three reservoir/water impoundment sites all within this IBA—Onima Reservoir, Playi Grandi Reservoir, and Washikemba Reservoir. Records from the period 1974-2001 indicate that at Onima Reservoir has had as many as 200 birds with confirmed breeding, Playa Grandi Reservoir as many as 26 birds with confirmed breeding, and Washikemba Reservoir as many as 20 birds with confirmed breeding. There are no estimates of global population size available against which to evaluate the significance of these numbers. Yellow-shouldered Amazon are also known to nest within the cliffs that extend from Onima to Fontein and have long-frequented Fontein for its permanent freshwater and the (introduced) fruit trees as well as a roosting site. Winter roost counts estimate over 100 birds (Williams and Martin, personal comments).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Greatest threats come from continued illegal trapping of wild Yellow-shouldered Parrots, destructive foraging of free-ranging goats and donkeys and potential depredation from feral cats on nesting terns and plovers, and possibly in some areas from human disturbance of tern nesting colonies, especially by sight-seers.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Ecological research on Bonaire including within the area encompassed within this proposed IBA has been conducted by the CARMABI Research Foundation located on Curacao. Surveys of breeding tern colonies in the area were undertaken by CARMABI in 2002 and by J. and A. Wells in 2001. Inventory of waterbirds and freshwater fishes has been carried out by the Zoological Museum Amsterdam (2006).

Protected areas
None currently in protected areas but approximately half of the area is within regions recommended for status as “Island Park” or “Protected Landscape” in the Bonaire Nature Management Plan 1999-2004.

Habitat and land use
Generally very sparse vegetation with much of area on seaward side essentially barren. Areas closest to coast often have sparse low-growing salt tolerant plants especially Sesuvium portulacastrum and Lithophila muscoides and Euphorbia species. As one moves further on from the coastline there are occasional cacti (Subpilocereus repandus, Pilosocerues lanuginosus, Melocactus sp.) and small shrubs (Prosopis juliflora and others).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Washikemba - Fontein - Onima, Bonaire. Downloaded from on 21/01/2022.