Conserving wetlands and their birdlife throughout the West Indies.
Restricted to the northern West Indies, the West Indian Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna arborea) is among the rarest ducks in the Americas.
The combined effects of habitat loss, overhunting, and predation by introduced rats and mongoose have wiped out the species from some islands and reduced its numbers drastically on others. Breeding populations are now known to exist on only a few islands, including several of the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and Antigua-Barbuda.
The West Indian Whistling-Duck (WIWD) and Wetlands Conservation Project seeks to reverse the decline of the globally threatened WIWD and the continuing loss of wetlands throughout the Caribbean. Initiated in 1997, the program provides local teachers and educators with training and educational materials and works to raise public awareness and appreciation for the value of local wetlands. The project also develops Watchable Wildlife Ponds - wetlands equipped with interpretive signs and viewing areas where local people, school groups, and tourists can easily observe whistling-ducks and other wildlife.
English and Spanish editions of a 276-page teacher's manual Wondrous West Indian Wetlands: Teachers's Resource Book, have been produced. The book and companion materials (slide show, puppet show, poster, wetland bird identification card, colouring book, field trip notebook, etc.) are being distributed in conjunction with two-day wetlands education workshops for schoolteachers and environmental educators throughout the region. In 2002-2003, 919 people were trained in 32 workshops in 8 countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago). On Little Cayman, viewing platforms, boardwalks and interpretive signs have been installed on 10 major wetlands, important habitats for both resident (including WIWDs) and Neotropical migratory birds. The project is working to bring the book and workshops to all 17 Caribbean nations and to expand the Watchable Wildlife Pond network.