Klein Bonaire, Bonaire

Year of compilation: 2007

Site description
Klein Bonaire, a 690 ha, low coral-limestone island, lies approximately one km offshore from Kralendijk on mainland Bonaire. The island is dominated by low shrubby vegetation that has been severely impacted from a long history of the felling of trees and overgrazing by introduced goats. The island’s shoreline includes three salinas, five freshwater springs or wells, beach areas that are important sea turtle nesting grounds, and coral rubble strands with low shrubby vegetation. The island is uninhabited but has been used in the past for camping by residents as well as for a small quarantine building facility.

Key biodiversity
Tern breeding surveys in 2002 estimated at least 100 breeding Least Terns which would constitute approximately 2% of regional population. The island is also host to breeding Wilson’s Plover (eight birds documented in 2001) and Snowy Plover (six birds documented in 2001). There are historical breeding records on the island for Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Snowy Egret, and White-tailed Hawk (now very rare or perhaps extirpated on mainland Bonaire). During tern and plover surveys in July 2001, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Green Heron, Snowy Egret, Black-necked Stilt, and Black-bellied Plover were among the waterbirds noted. Landbirds seen included several flocks of Bare-eyed Pigeon flying in from mainland Bonaire, Eared Dove, Common Ground Dove, a single Brown-throated Parakeet, Gray Kingbird, Tropical Mockingbird, Yellow Warbler, Bananaquit and relatively high densities of ruby-topaz hummingbirds.

Non-bird biodiversity: Three land snails endemic to Bonaire and seven endemic to the ABC islands have been documented from Klein Bonaire. One species of lizard endemic to Bonaire, two endemic to the ABC islands and on subspecies endemic to Bonaire have been documented from Klein Bonaire. The island is the most important sea turtle nesting locations on Bonaire with, for example, 29 hawksbill sea turtle nests and 14 loggerhead sea turtle nests, documented on Klein Bonaire in 2005. These species as well as the green sea turtle have also been regularly documented feeding in the waters surrounding Klein Bonaire.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Disturbance from occasional visitors to the island and depredation of nests and eggs by cats (and possibly mice and rats, if still present), are likely greatest current potential threats to nesting terns.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
The island is part of the Bonaire National Marine Park, managed (for the government of Bonaire) by the non-profit STINAPA organization that also oversees management of Washington-Slagbaai National Park. Biological inventories of the island have been carried out by the CARMABI Foundation and some work on reintroducing rare plants to the island was carried out in 2006. Surveys of terns and plovers were carried out on the island in 2001 and 2002. A survey and population estimate for all bird species was conducted during June 2006 (Delnevo pers.comm.). The island was rid of goats in the 1980s, and may be free of introduced rats, and mice but further assessment is required. The island still has a feral cat population (their presence was confirmed in 2006).

Protected areas
The island and surround reef is protected within the Bonaire National Marine Park. The island is a designated RAMSAR site.

Habitat and land use
Most of island covered in rather low shrubs dominated by Croton flavens (rock sage), Lantana involucrata (wild sage), Cordia currassavica (black sage), Corchorus hirsutus (jack-switch), Jatropha gossypiifolia (wild physic nut), and Passiflora suberosa (passion flower). Approximately 36 ha of salinas exist along the shoreline sections of the island. These along with other open areas along the shoreline provide the important nesting sites for terns and important nesting and feeding areas for plovers.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Klein Bonaire, Bonaire. Downloaded from on 22/01/2021.