Soldado Rock is a small offshore island, roughly 0.6 ha in extent and rising to 35m. It is located 10 km west of Icacos Point on the Cedros peninsula, almost at the midpoint between Venezuela and Trinidad. There is no human habitation but fishermen regularly visit the island.
The island (at least in the past) served as a major breeding ground for Sooty Terns and Brown Noddys with up to 2500 pairs of each species from 1960 to 1982. Magnificent Frigatebirds and Brown Pelicans roost on the island. In a visit in April 2001 no nesting terns were observed and it is likely that the colony has been abandoned either due to disturbance or due to general depletion of the fish stocks within the Gulf or Paria.
Non-bird biodiversity: Apart from the seabirds and associated parasites the vertebrate fauna of Soldado is limited to four species. A small population of cane rat Zygodontomys brevicauda was designated the subspecies soldadoensis by Goodwin in 1965. Populations of Iguanas Iguana iguana and the gecko Spherodactylus molei have been observed and a single specimen of the amphibian Bufo marinus. At times of heavy rains in Venezuela, rafts of floating vegetation wash up on Soldado Rock and presumably bring the occasional vertebrate.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The current value of Soldado Rock as a seabird breeding area is uncertain as there is evidence that the colony may have been abandoned. Despite being a protected wildlife sanctuary, it is impossible to enforce given its location and the current wardening system. If the abandonment is due to general degradation of the surrounding marine habitat then the situation is unlikely to be improved without considerable effort.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
The current status of the island is not known and there are no current enforcement or conservation activities. No investigations of Soldado since 2001.
Soldado Rock is currently listed as a protected wildlife sanctuary, but this offers little protection. Local fishermen visit the island to collect birds or Iguanas.
Habitat and land use
The island is generally bare limestone with vegetation limited to five species. A ridge connecting the two main outcrops on the island contains some soil, heavily laden with guano. This soil supports two low scrubs, Plumbago seandens, and Portulaca oleracea, two grasses, Paspalum vaglnatum and Mariscus ligularis and the sedge, Eleusine indica. A raised platform just above sea level circles three-quarters of the island
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Soldado Rock. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 24/10/2020.