During the 10th and 11th of October 2012 a large group of people working for the conservation of the Hispaniolan solenodon and Hispanolian hutia participated in an event entitled “Action Plan for the Conservation of terrestrial mammals endemic to Hispaniola.” Over two days we analyzed the current status of these species and their threats in the short and long term.
Participants included the Environment Ministry who were the convening agency, and numerous NGOs working on conservation including: The Nature Consenvancy, Jaragua Group, The Center for Conservation of Samana Bay and its Environs (CEBSE, The Ecological Foundation Punta Cana, the peasant movement MCCQ, The Zoological Society of London and Durrell Wild Life Conservation Trust among others.
The event presented a summary of the most important findings of the project during its tenure. Fossil records show that the hutia and solenodon once had a wide range and that both species were widely distributed throughout the island.
Currently, both species are found in Massif la Hotte and Massif de la Selle in the western part of Haiti. In the Dominican Republic both species are found in Sierra Bahoruco, Jaragua Park, Los Haitises, Parque del Este, Punta Cana, among other areas.
Deforestation and dogs pose the greatest threat to these species, accounting for 68% of deaths reported in the Sierra de Bahoruco where the study was conducted. Our findings show that the hutia is at a greater degree of vulnerability than the solenodon due to fragmentation and habitat loss observed throughout the course of our investigation. There are also indirect causes that may be having a negative impact on the species and that have not received the required attention. Mortality has occurred in both species for example, as a result of consuming poisoned tallow. Farmers leave this around their land to remove ferrets and rats, pest species that cause damage to agriculture and poultry breeds.
The event began with remarks on behalf of the Minister by Professor Rafael Almonte. Professor Almonte who was part of the team that worked the law 64-00 and the articulation of the Ministry of Environment recognizes the importance of preserving these species and the role of conservation organizations in preserving species and their habitats.
The event was also attended by the Ambassador of the United Kingdom who emphasized the role played by the UK in the conservation of these unique species and the importance of this conservation project.