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   Monkey Hill Estates
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   Copyright 2008
   Monkey Hill Estates
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The Turks and Caicos Islands:
A Natural Caribbean Gem
The islands have a rich blend of natural habitats that bring an abundance of wildlife to your doorstep. More than 190 species of birds roam the islands. Fifty-two of them nest here, many on the 12 small cays the government has set aside as protected breeding grounds for wildlife.

On North Caicos Island, the largest flock of wild pink flamingos in the Caribbean can be observed at Flamingo Pond, a invigorating hike from Monkey Hill Estates (Yellow Dot). The tidal flats on the south shore of the island became a designated Ramsar Convention treaty site in 1990 to protect endangered wetlands.

Herons, egrets, boobies, frigates, osprey, pelicans and the rare West Indian whistling duck are joined by many other migrating shorebirds in the pristine salt ponds and mangrove lagoons for a total of 61 waterfowl species.

On higher ground, in the trees and scrub, songbirds serenade. Many migrants spend time on the islands during their trips north or south during the winter months. The endangered Kirtland's warbler, a winter visitor who summers in the northern forests of Michigan (USA), is occasionally seen.

More than 500 species of plants are found on the Turks and Caicos Islands in its "dry deciduous forest," an ecological niche found only in tropical areas around the world.
In many other locations, this niche has been severely taxed by over population, but most of the Caicos islands have been uninhabited for thousands of years so its forests remain intact.

These areas are fragile and the island government is sensitive to their preservation and sensible development. North Caicos was cultivated 200 years ago by British Loyaists who fled the southern states following the Revolutionary War. Attempts to grow cotton were marred by limited rainfall. Ruins of plantations still exist on the islands.



Unlike temperate zone forests, those on the islands are at their peak beauty following the autumn rains. The islands get most of their 20-40 inches of annual rainfall from the spring to the fall months. By the end of winter time, the forests are in their more dormant period and look parched. The rains bring new leaf growth and the blooming of flowers: bright yellow wild allamanda, blue and violet butterfly pea, passionflowers in reds and whites, frangipani, joewood, and even sea oats thrive here. Something is always in bloom!

Sea turtles "fly" through the island waters. Hawksbills are the most frequently seen. Leatherbacks and (rarely) green turtles are also observed. All are endangered and efforts are being made to protect their wild populations.

 

The Atlantic Ocean surrounding the territory is where the richest natural diversity thrives and significantly contributes to the islands' economy through exports as well as eco-tourism.
Spiny
lobsters

are harvested for their delicious tails and shipped to the Americas and Europe supplying the economy with significant revenue.

Conch
is the islander's favorite delicacy. The only conch farm in the Caribbean is on Providenciales and is a frequent stop for tourists, Wild conch is also plentiful. The Caicos Banks as well as the rapid descent of the 7,000 foot deep ocean beyond the coral reefs lure "wall divers" from around the world to enjoy the abundant sea life.


 

 

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