Nearly 300 people discovered the animals that live only on Saint-Martin during the fifth annual Festival of Endemic Animals. They were welcomed by more than 30 volunteers and experts sharing various subjects such as nature in the island's literature, sharks, iguanas, native plants and animals, stone walls and local building traditions. The event was organized by the association Les Fruits de Mer at the Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in Quartier d'Orléans.
"We were delighted to see so many people having fun and discovering the unique animals of this island!" Said Jenn Yerkes, President of the association Les Fruits de Mer. "It was our first public event at the Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House.
We are working with the community to make this place a space where many voices share what is special about St. Martin. We were therefore very pleased to invite local experts. They used this year's theme - Made Here - to connect local wildlife with many other parts of the local heritage. ”
Local experts shared on seven fascinating topics at this year's festival. Tadzio Bervoets and the St. Maarten Nature Foundation presented the island's sharks. Author and publisher Lasana M. Sekou prepared selections of local poetry and writing on nature for the exhibition. Christophe Henocq has highlighted historic stone walls as a unique habitat for plants and animals. Laura Bijnsdorp and EPIC presented how local plants help protect the island. Bird specialist Binkie van Es led fun activities for the Caribbean Bird Detective program. The Anguilla National Trust shared its work to save rare iguanas on Anguilla, which have disappeared from St. Martin. Mark Yokoyama highlighted the endemic animals of St. Martin.
Children and adults alike enjoyed several arts and crafts on the animal theme, including making iguana masks and painting bags of wildlife. Participants also discovered Plantilles, the heritage plant program that starts on the grounds of the Amuseum Naturalis. The project includes community gardens, a nursery of native plants and a garden of herbal tea ("bush tea").
This year's festival was the first opportunity in several years for the public to see the historic The Old House in the Orleans district. It will be the new home of the free nature museum Amuseum Naturalis, which moves after two years to Grand Case. More than 100 volunteers have helped prepare the property since the start of the year. Les Fruits de Mer regularly hosts weekend volunteer events and invites everyone to get involved. The association hopes to revive the museum itself later this year.
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