Today, Cockpit Country remains a refuge for Jamaica’s endemic and native animals and plants which are otherwise threatened by the “sea” of agriculture which has replaced much of the original forests covering the “Land of Wood and Water”. Butterflies and lizards are probably the most visible animals during the middle of the day, but plants and trees don’t move around, so they are always available to experience. There are more than a thousand different species of plant in Cockpit Country, of which sixty five are endemic to the area. Special adaptations are always interesting: hair-like growths on grasses help condense water out of the high humidity; spikes or prickles on trees do the same but also deter animals from eating the young plant. Names tell a story: Bullet wood (so hard you can’t knock a nail in); Lancewood, Rodwood grow long and straight, Breadnut (can be eaten when times are hard). Bromeliads (“wild pine”) are important reserves of water for many animals, including rotifers, crabs and frogs.
|The cockpit karst geomorphology is the foundation of much of the special adaptations of plants and animals.|
Amateur naturalists are one target, but young children are always excited by games: see how many “crawlies” they can find; how many different “things with wings” they can see while being respectful and not handling or harming anything.
Booklets documenting the plant and animal life are useful resources for the local schools and community as well as being items for sale.