How Flying Goats in Yoga Pants Could Save Caribbean Island of Redonda
As the tiny, rugged isle of Redonda appears like an eerie moonscape through the rain clouds, it is easy to see why people refer to it simply as “the rock”.
Almost devoid of vegetation, this tiny remnant of a prehistoric volcano looks a hulk of nothingness.
This is Antigua and Barbuda’s third island, the one you will not find in tourist brochures. It could not be further from the lush landscapes fringed by white-sand beaches that helped put its sisters on the map.
Redonda, stretching just one mile (1.6km) long, is entirely uninhabited save for a handful of conservationists, who are currently camping here. And some perplexed-looking goats which, until February, had the island to themselves for decades.
It may seem uninspiring at first glance but environmentalists hope to transform its barren terrain into a fertile eco-haven.
Its desolate appearance belies its status as prized seabird habitat, home to rare and unique wildlife found nowhere else on Earth.
Yet these reptiles, tropical birds, frigates and boobies have been in danger of disappearing thanks to two invasive species introduced by early colonists.
The long-horned goats, brought here 300 years ago, have eaten almost all the plants that once carpeted Redonda. Now with barely anything left for them to feed on, many have starved to death, their carcasses littering the land.
Conservationists hope that by re-homing the 75-strong herd on to the main island of Antigua, around 30 miles (50km) away, Redonda will be able to flourish once again.
Several have already been flown out by helicopter. To keep them calm on the 20-minute flight, shower caps or hoods made from yoga pants are put on their heads. Protective material, which actually comes from swimming floats known as noodles, is wrapped around their horns so they do not injure each other.
SOURCE: Gemma Handy