The Hispaniola Gavilan, also known as Ridgway’s Hawk or the Hispaniola Hawk, was named Buteo ridgway in honor of Robert Ridgway, the ornithologist who first documented it. Its importance in the preservation of the countries’ ecosystems is second only to the Hispaniola parrot Amazonas ventralis. The Hispaniola Hawk is endemic to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where it has been in serious decline for a number of years.
In 1990 and 1994, its status on the international RedList was considered “Indeterminate-Endangered, Vulnerable or Rare.” By 1996 the hawk was designated as endangered, and in 2000 was recognized as critically endangered.
The rapid and severe decline in the Ridgway’s Hawk population is attributed to both a large-scale loss of lowland forest habitat, and direct persecution by humans. Its most feared enemies are farmers, who often confuse it with the kestrels or guaraguaos blamed for being chicken hunters. The population is now very small and fragmented, with its only real remaining stronghold being Los Haitises National Park in the northeast part of the Dominican Republic.
As a result of joint work by the Hispaniola Ornithology Society, The Peregrine Fund, and the Ministry of the Environment, helped by the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation and Central Romana Corporation, Hispaniola’s most unique and iconic bird of prey may still have a future.
For more information and photo, see http://www.peregrine-foundation.ca/raptors/rdrrh.html
See The Peregrine Fund at http://www.peregrinefund.org/world_center.asp and the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation at http://www.puntacana.com/ecological-commitment/ecological-foundation