Invasive feral donkeys and their Caribbean history

The Equus asinus (donkey) is an invasive species that was once abundant on many Caribbean islands. It is native to Africa. Donkeys are a part of Caribbean history as these equines have been around for over 400 years since the early 1600s. They arrived with the first English settlers in the 1630s. Donkeys were used to carry sugarcane on plantations and used in cane-crushing mills.  

However, left unchecked they turned invasive. Recently, feral donkeys were eradicated on the island of Cabritos in the Dominican Republic. Feral donkeys resemble horses and can be found in tropical savannahs and desert habitats. This invasive species can have an irrevocable impact on native fauna and flora. It has been known to damage water quality, wildlife, soil, and plant communities.  

The feral donkey is a threat to native species, often monopolizing resources. Control methods for this invasive species include fencing, trapping, mustering, or roping. Non-lethal control methods are used to manage this species.  

Approximately two-thirds of all global species extinctions may have been due to competition with invasive species. Invasive species usually outcompete native species for resources like food and habitat. A recent survey was conducted for Barbados and the OECS countries to determine what is needed to combat invasive alien species. Biosecurity was highlighted to be one of the main areas that need to be improved regionally. Read more about this in our policy brief ‘Improving Biosecurity will Safeguard our Health, Economy, and Irreplaceable Biodiversity’. 

Read more about this from our sources below! 


Caribbean Invasives – IAS Impact 

Policy Brief – Improving Biosecurity will Safeguard our Health, Economy, and Irreplaceable Biodiversity 

CABI – Equus asinus 

Pestsmart – Capture of feral donkeys 

BBC – Why donkeys are a reminder of one island’s ‘sweet’ old days