Montserrat Donkeys: Wild Survivors of the Soufriere Hills Volcano
Surprises should come as no, err, surprise in Montserrat. The star-crossed Emerald Isle of the Caribbean is, after all, home to the region’s only active and continually smoking volcano. A volcano that’s substantively changed everything about life in Montserrat for all of the island’s residents in recent years. A volcano that’s yielded a distinctly uncommon community full of surprises. Among the biggest of those surprises, at least to me, are the Montserrat donkeys.
Origin of the Wild Montserrat Donkeys
Yeah, I was surprised to find wild donkeys roaming the remote surrounds of Jack Boy Hill during our summer 2019 visit to Montserrat. They, like most everything else about Montserrat these days, are primarily a product of the mid-1990s eruptions of the Soufriere Hills Volcano.
As molten ash threatened homes and businesses along the southern half of the island, residents fled. Those with donkeys largely set them free to fend for themselves, resulting in the wild herds of today.
Editor’s note: While the Soufriere Hills Volcano remains active and smoking today, it’s very much possible to safely visit Montserrat today. To learn how, click here.
No part 0f my pre-trip research into everything to love about Montserrat, though, made mention of mules. I wondered if they were as beloved a quirk of the island community as the donkeys I’d long known in Saint John.
Answer: Not so much.
Few Montserratians, it seems, have very much nice to say about the Montserrat donkeys. Their proliferation here was such a problem in the late-1990s, in fact, that the donkeys made headlines across the globe! Not the good kind, mind you…
Proposals were floated to export, hunt, and even eat the donkeys back then. Our visit, though, affirmed that Montserrat donkeys are still very much a thing.
Look out for them while adventuring along the island’s stunningly untamed east coast. We encountered dozens of them happily running free in the highlands above the sea and the Caribbean newest beach.
For even more on how best to enjoy visiting Montserrat, be sure to check out our Montserrat Travel Guide.