PHILIPSBURG – “Spread Your Wings for Bird Conservation” is the theme for this year’s celebration of the Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival (CEBF). At dozens of events throughout the region, participants of all ages will learn about endemic birds, local ecosystems, and how everyone can participate in activities that help safeguard their long-term survival.
The festival, now in its 15th year, is led by BirdsCaribbean, the largest organization devoted to wildlife conservation in the Caribbean. The month-long festival includes Caribbean-wide activities from Earth Day (April 22) to International Biodiversity Day (May 22), in more than 20 countries. The event celebrates the 173 bird species that are found only in the Caribbean, known as endemics. The program attracts over 80,000 participants and volunteers each year.
St. Maarten takes part in this regional celebration with the Endemic Animal Festival, now in its third year. The event is organized by the Les Fruits de Mer association and this year’s event will be held from 9:00am to 12:00pm noon on Sunday, April 24, at the St. Maarten Zoo in Madame Estate.
The event will showcase native animal signage recently installed at the zoo. Other attractions include an Endemic Animal Discovery Station where guests can get up close with some of our locally-endemic species, a Birdwatching Station on the Great Salt Pond hosted by local naturalist Binkie van Es, and a variety of endemic animal themed art activities. The Endemic Animal Festival is totally free, including free admission to the zoo during the event.
The goal of the month-long Festival over its 15-year history has always been to increase public awareness of the region’s exceptionally rich and threatened bird life, using the Caribbean’s celebrated endemic birds as flagships of conservation. “It’s up to all of us to be good stewards of our environment so that our invaluable natural heritage is preserved for all Caribbean people to enjoy.” commented President of BirdsCaribbean Leo Douglas.
Festival participants will learn about actions that they can take to help conserve birds. At this year’s Endemic Animal Festival, guests can take home a free Endemic Animal Activity book that features a variety of species found only on St. Martin, or only in the region. It even includes some tips on great ways to enjoy nature and help protect it.
To view reports and photos of past Caribbean Endemic Bird Festivals, for downloadable Festival resources, visit www.birdscaribbean.org. For information about the Endemic Animal Festival on St. Martin, visit www.lesfruitsdemer.com.