Tag Archives: island

Creatures Of Dominican Republic 1 – Nocturnal

Some of the Nocturnal Creatures of the Dominican Republic.

Creatures of the night that are usually only seen after dark.

Hispaniolan Hutia/ Capromyidae | Agouta or Juron/ Hispaniolan Solenodon | Cacata/ Tarantula

The Hispaniolan Hutia (Capromyidae)

The cute little endangered Hispaniolan Hutia (Capromyidae)
The cute little endangered Hispaniolan Hutia (Capromyidae)

This furry small mammal creature looks like a mix between a large guinea pig and a small groundhog, with some rat-like looks thrown in for good measure. They are only found on the islands of the Caribbean where they are, for the most part, the last indigenous living land mammal. Their walk is more or a waddle. When they are frightened this slow waddle can change into a fast high hop. Using this hop or their good climbing skills is how they escape their predators. The Hutia have an almost naked tail that is a little scaly. They do have claws. Mainly vegetarian, they live on roots and fruits which they eat when they come out of their burrows, hollow trees, or nesting boxes where they live, after dark. The small creature closely resembles the rabbit having the same nesting and eating habits.

The Hutia is becoming increasingly rare. They have been hunted and have not been able to repopulate as fast as they are being taken. Also with their habitat slowly diminishing they are slowly disappearing from existence. These cute fuzzy creatures have been hunted since the Taino days. Their meat was considered quite tasty by the indigenous peoples and also by Columbus and his European gang. The Hutai does well in captivity and hopefully, soon the Dominican people will start raising/farming them as a food crop. Let’s hope that we humans can protect these little furry island mammals and once again see the Hispaniolan Hutia romping and bouncing freely through the Dominican landscape.


Interesting BBC video produced as a visual anthropology experience, and part of the project The Last Survivors “Saving the Hutia and the Solenodon”.

Agouta / Hispaniolan solenodon also known as Juron or Solenodonte in Dominican Republic

Solenodon found in Dominican Republic
Solenodon found in Dominican Republic

This furry rabbit sized creature is from the genus Dasyprocta and can be found throughout the American tropics. The species found in Dominican Republic and Haiti is the Solenodon paradoxus.

This insect-eating mammal is quite similar to a mole as it feeds and moves around mostly in the darkness and at night. It has a long body, with a small or sometimes non-existent tail, and small ears. This burrowing animal weighs about 25 to 35 ounces at adulthood. Its long narrow feet have some very sharp claws. The teeth of this wiry, dark brown mammal are its most unique part. The teeth can inject venom into whatever it bites. This venom is injected through some small grooves that run down their small sharp teeth. They are the only mammals with this ability.

The Agouta is an ancient creature that survived the end of the dinosaur age. It also was one of the very few mammals that were able to live through the colonization of the islands. At one time they were about the only predators on the island. This indigenous creatures reproduction cycle is very slow. They are only able to get pregnant 1 or 2 times a year, making only a few babies in their litter each time. They are born in burrows and can remain with their mothers for several months, which is quite a long time as compared to other insect-eating creatures.

The Hispaniola or Haitian Solenodons’ numbers are dwindling rapidly. The colonizers of this island and the non-indigenous predators that include dogs and cats found this small insectivore to be quite tasty. Now with the massive deforestation happening here, especially in the east part of the island, the solenodons numbers are rapidly dwindling. This along with their inability to reproduce rapidly has made this species almost extinct placing it at #6 on the endangered species list (3/08).

The YouTube video above has information about the Hutia and the Solenodon – The Last Survivors

solenodon found in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic
solenodon found in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic
solenodon found in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic
solenodon found in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic

Pictures taken in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic. They caught the solenodon and released it later. They said it had a very bad smell and was very mean and aggressive.

*As of April , 2008 the Dominican Zoo, Parque Zoológico Nacional Arq. Manuel Valverde Podestá República Dominicana in Santo Domingo has their first solenodon to show to the public. It was found in the El Sibao region of República Dominicana. This is one of the few in the world on display as it is so rare.

More about the Hispaniolan solenodon
The EDGE of Existence program aims to conserve the world’s most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species by implementing the research and conservation actions needed to secure their future. Check their web site to see what you can do to help. There is also more information on many endangered species of wonderful creatures of the world.

Cacata/ Tarantula

cacata - tarantula found in dominican republic
cacata – tarantula found in dominican republic

The Dominican Republic does have its share of spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites, centipedes and other nasty, ugly yet amazing creatures. They are not readily seen, especially in the cities, but in the country they can be plentiful. They are nocturnal and are rarely seen in the daylight.

I never really worried about them. They are not very aggressive. They can be frightening and they do like to crawl into houses at night. This can be a bit startling waking and seeing one of these creatures sitting on your pillow beside your head or rolling over on one in your sleep. The cacatas I saw were more anorexic than this picture but I was told by a friend that he saw one that was so huge, it was the size of a kitten, running around in a warehouse. I try and remember to check the inside of my shoes before putting them on when I am in the country.

When attacking a Cacata beware, they are crafty creatures. They jump and can play dead. When they do walk on your flesh they seem to almost stick to it. Many Dominicans that I have met think that if they do get bit by one of these hairy spiders they will surely die.

Read more about these arachnids at, Invertebrates III: Introduction to Arthropods; Arachnids. It has much information and creepy pictures of these creatures that nightmares are made of.

Continue learning about The Creatures of Dominican Republic – Page 2

James Logan Journey 1838

Notes of a journey through Canada, USA, and the West Indies.

By James Logan, advocate, of Edinburgh.
Created/Published: Edinburgh [etc.] Fraser and co., 1838.
Digital ID: lhbtn 26860 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gdc/lhbtn.26860

These are excerpts taken from this document of the notes that were written about Santo Domingo. It is so interesting to read the views of the writer at this time. It seems that Port-a-Prince (Haiti) was the largest town on the island at this time and much more cosmopolitan. (To read the entire 259 page document refer to the link above.)

CHAPTER IX. JAMAICA.
(page 217)
On our coming in sight of St Domingo, a gentleman, a Mr P., on board the schooner, who had been resident some time there engaged in mercantile pursuits, gave me the following account of it:–This island, now the centre towards which all the eyes of Europe are turned, as developing the working of a republic of black population, has not come up to the expectations of the speculator on the system of precipitate emancipation. The Negroes of St Domingo or Hayti, about forty years ago, expelled their masters, the French and Spaniards, from the island, and after several leaders had ruled different divisions, and been successively put down, one of them, Christophe, a Negro from an English island, and who had been a servant in the town of Cape Hayti, governed for several years the northern division of the island, of which Cape Hayti is the capital.


—–
(page 218) At one time the most productive island in the West Indies, it is now amongst the least, though the population is considerably increased. No reasonable man sends his coat to the carpenter to be mended; he knows that a carpenter is not a tailor, his trade is quite distinct; before the carpenter can profess the trade of a tailor, he must serve an apprenticeship to the latter, that he may be fitted for the trade, Again, boys and girls are not fitted for the work of, men and women, they require experience and practice; and is not the Negro’s an analogous case? Unmercifully torn from his home and friends, treated like a dog, generally compelled to a labour he never before heard of, to

(page 219) adopt customs and views totally foreign to his nature, is it to be supposed that he works willingly, or that he has any desire to learn? It can only be time that will modify his mind and practice, and bend him to his situation, and, combined with other causes, may ultimately stimulate him to exertion for himself. To set him free at once, is analogous to opening the door of a prison to let loose the hundred criminals, who, as experience has shown us, generally return to their old habits. Here lie the difficulties even the rulers of this republic have to contend with; and what have the other islands not to contend with?

West Indies Map-James Logan Journey

St Domingo is, in point of size, next to Cuba, and is very mountainous. The plains are fertile, and have yielded abundant crops of sugar, coffee, rice, tobacco, &c. The northern parts of the island are most healthy, being exposed to more regular sea breezes from the Atlantic, which in winter are sometimes so cold as to render a fire necessary. The principal produce of the island for exportation is coffee, cotton, tobacco, and cigars, to which may be added mahogany and logwood. Rice, which, in the time of the French, formed one of the principal articles of export, is now largely imported for the use of the inhabitants, and in 1836 very considerable quantities of East India rice were even imported from Liverpool. Although at one time as much sugar was made here as on all the other West India islands together, now barely sufficient for their own use is raised. The imports consist principally of British, German, and French linens, (page 220) cottons, cloth, silk, and hardware and cutlery, with American flour, salt fish, and lumber.

The population is supposed to be about 700,000, seven-tenths of whom are entirely black. The French language is used in all the legislative proceedings, though Spanish is the prevalent language in that part of the island formerly called Hispaniola.

Port-au-Prince is said to be the most populous town in the island, having nearly 22,000 inhabitants, and at which a great proportion of the foreign trade of the island is carried on. Here the President Boyer resides. The town has a pretty appearance from the harbour, but is very irregularly built, the houses of wood principally, though some of the merchants have both stores and houses of brick. These materials are better suited to the climate, there being less expense and danger to be apprehended from earthquakes, shocks of which are of frequent occurrence, and sometimes very injurious to property. The town is situated in the beautiful bay of the same name on the west side of the island.

The story continues on…..
—-
Taken from the Library of Congress – American Memory
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/lhtnhtml/lhtnhome.html

Basic History Of Dominican Republic

General History Of Dominican Republic Condensed

The Dominican Republic is an island in the Caribbean that has a rich and unique history starting with the Indigenous Taino People, The Spanish Conquest, Haitian Rule to the present time.

1.Before Written History | 2.Arrival of the Foreigners | 3.More Recent History | 4.And Now Ciudad Colonial… | 5.”List of the Firsts” | 6.Cultural Treasures

Before Written History

Taino cave drawings
Taino cave drawings

Before the Europeans arrived on the island of Hispaniola and claimed they were the so-called “discoverers” of the entire island, it was occupied by the Taino Indians.

The Tainos lived on the island they lovingly called Quisqueya. In the Taino language this means “Land for which there is none better”.

The peaceful Tainos (they did war with neighboring tribes such as the bloodthirsty Caribs) almost entire demise coincided with the arrival of the Spaniards and their abuse of these original inhabitants of this small island. These “savages”, as the Europeans thought of them, who had ruled the island, now lost their way of life and eventually most lost their lives because of this invasion of the Whites. The Taino nation was doomed the moment Christopher Columbus invaded their beloved island.

The Arrival of the Foreigners

Replica of one of the ships Columbus arrived in.
Replica of one of the ships Columbus arrived in.

Christopher Columbus, in Spanish Cristóbal Colón, came to the island on the ship La Santa María. There were two other ships that accompanied him, La Pinta and La Niña. He found the island for the first time on October 12, 1492.

Columbus first landed on one of the islands in the Bahamas. Later that year also found Cuba and an island he called La Isla Espanola (he was on the western side of the island).

When Columbus returned to Spain after visiting Hispanola he left some of his men behind. They were instructed to search for the gold he thought was on the island.

When Columbus made his second voyage, he returned to the island only to find most of the people he left on Hispaniola had vanished. All were assumed to have died.

The fleet of 17 ships continued traveling along the coast toward the east. Finally, stopping to create a fortified post, Christopher left his brother and some men on the island. They were instructed to search the interior of the island for that coveted and promised gold. Columbus left and continued his quest, searching elsewhere for the gold he promised the Queen.

By the spring of 1494, the island of Hispaniola was colonized. The island Columbus declared to be “The most beautiful island the human eyes have ever seen” is where he wanted his remains entered to rest forever.

The first Europeans settled Hispaniola in 1496.

The brother of Christopher, Bartholomew Columbus founded Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, officially on August 5, 1498. The city, originally named La Isabela, is the oldest European city founded by Europeans in the “New World”. It is the oldest colonial city in all of the Americas.

Santo Domingo was the place of origin for much of the exploration and conquest of the New World throughout its first century of existence. The “discovery” of Puerto Rico led by Ponce de Leon, the conquest of Mexico led by Cortez, and the first sighting of the Pacific Ocean led by Balboa, all started here in Santo Domingo.

The famous pirate Francis Drake invaded the settlement in 1568 and weakened the Spanish domain over Hispaniola. The Spaniards abandoned the city and left it to Drake and the pirates for more than 50 years. It remained this way until the French invaded the west side of the island in 1655. After many treaties and forced annexations the part of the island originally called by Santo Domingo was less than half it’s original size.

Commanded by Toussaint Louverture, the Haitians took over the island in 1822. They ruled the island for 22 years, fighting for their lost independence.

The Spaniards again became independent of Haitian rule on February 27, 1844. Thanks to their leaders Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sánchez and Ramón Matías Mella. This was when the Spanish part of the island became known as the Republica Dominicana (Dominican Republic). The Haitian’s were totally defeated in 1861 and sent to their own side of the island. The struggle to keep control of the country was ongoing, even after Spanish independence was gained.

More Recent History

Revolution 1965 Calle Isabel la Católica and Luperon, Ciudad Colonial
Revolution 1965 Calle Isabel la Católica and Luperon, Ciudad Colonial

In 1916 The United States of America, wanting to have more power and influence in the Dominican Republic, used World War 1 as an excuse to bring in the Marines. They came to “protect” the country against the “bad” European powers.

The USA changed the infrastructure of the country to best benefit them. The Dominican Republic had its first, somewhat, free elections in 1924 which put Rafael Leonidas Trujillo in power.

The US finally decided to leave the Dominican Republic to take care of itself. Soon after Trujillo was able to gain power. In 1930 he took over completely. The Trujillo dictatorship ended on May 30, 1961 with his execution by ambush. He died one of the richest men in the world.

After this there were many political and economic problems and the country was in turmoil. The US Marines returned in 1965 to occupy the country again. This time because they said the uprising was the fault of the Communists. USA left when Dr. Joaquín Balaguer was elected president for a second time (many say the election was fixed). Through all these political struggles and civil wars the country became independent.

1992 marked the 500th anniversary, El Quinto Centenario, of Christopher Columbus’ opening of Las Americas to the colonization of the Europeans.

The Columbus Lighthouse, Faro a Colón, with an approximate cost of 400 million Dominican pesos, was erected in honor of this occasion. This massive structure is in the shape of a cross. It is claimed that the building houses the remains of Cristobal Colón. The museum also is home to many exhibits and historical items.

Faro a Colón is amazing to see by day as well as the night when it is completely lit up. The spectacular lights on the top of the building form a cross in the heavens at night (the lights are only shown on special occasions because of the electricity problems) that can be seen for long distances.

See many old pictures of Santo Domingo and Dominican Republic.

And Now Ciudad Colonial…

A panoramic view of modern day Ciudad Colonial, Santo Domingo 2013
A panoramic view of modern day Ciudad Colonial, Santo Domingo 2013

Colonial Zone, Zona Colonial or Ciudad Colonial is the oldest city in Las Americas on the island of Hispaniola in the country of Dominican Republic. It is a small town located in the capital city Santo Domingo de Guazmán. It is bordered by Río Ozama and the Caribbean Sea. There are many historical sites that were built during the time of exploration, exploitation, and colonization of the “New World.”

Much of the original city can still be seen today. The cathedral, monastery, university and hospital are among many of the “firsts” that happened here. The 16th-century buildings, homes and churches where one can see the old world Spanish architectural styles of the period. Many of these buildings are in excellent condition and are a wonder to behold.

Colonial Zone (and the surrounding sectors including San Miguel, San Lázaro, Santa Barbara, San Anton, San Carlos, Atarazana, and Cuidad Nueva) is a wonderful mix of the past and present. The old and new intertwine to make a unique travelers experience.

Live the history. Walk our streets. Visit our Museums and Historical sights. Dine in our restaurants. Meet our people. Dance to out music. You will make lasting memories. Something you may remember for a lifetime. Here in the land of firsts in “The Americas”

The “Firsts”

The city of Santo Domingo was the seat of many historic events and many of the monuments that are here are from the first 50 years of the European Conquest of America. This is why we have the title
“The Cradle of America”.

1. First Map: drawing of the northeast coast by Christopher Columbus (1493)
2. First European Villa in the Americas: La Isabela (1494)
3. First Religious Order: Friar of San Francisco (1494)
4. First Mass officiated in the Americas: January 6, 1494.
5. First Capital of the Americas: Santo Domingo (1496-98)
6. First Monastery: San Francisco (1502)
7. First Hospital: San Nicolás de Bari (1503)
8. First House of Contracts (1503)
9. First University: Universidad de Santo Domingo (1538)
10. First Cathedral: Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación (1541)

Cultural Treasures

Painting of all the Colonial Zone monuments
Painting of all the Colonial Zone monuments

There are many cultural treasures located throughout Dominican Republic. In 2010 there was a vote by the held by the International Bureau of Capitals of Culture. The bureau helps people to notice important cultural locations throughout the world. This year they focused on the Dominican Republic. There were 27 candidates for the treasure, and most were in the Colonial Zone. They received 18,420 votes.

This is a list of the places voted for and the number of votes received. You can find information about these locations in the Colonial Zone Sights section.

1) Alcázar de Colón – 4344 votes
2) Cathedral Santa María de la Encarnación – 2560
3) Fortaleza Ozama – 2369
4) Museo de las Casas Reales – 1275
5) Jardín Botánico – 1117
6) Malecón – 1092
7) Palacio de Bellas Artes – 1024
8) Barrio Chino – 972
9) Calle Las Damas – 485
10) Palacio Nacional – 443
11) Hospital San Nicolás de Bari (ruinas) – 308
12) Panteón Nacional – 284
13) Parque de los Tres Ojos de Auga – 246
14) Altar de la Patria – 238
15) Hostal Nicolás de Ovando – 223
16) Monasterio de San Francisco (ruinas) – 208
17) Faro a Colón – 196
18) Alcantarilla Colonial – 193
19) Iglesia del Convento Dominico – 184
20) Calle El Conde – 181
21) Casa de Juan Pablo Duarte – 125
22) Reales Atarazanas – 116
23) Casa de Tostado – 66
24) Parque de la Independencia – 49
25) Ceiba de Colón – 46
26) Urna original de los restos del almirante Don Cristóbal Colón – 39
27) Palacio Consistorial – 37