Thursday, January 18, 2018

Scarlet Ibis poachers beware: $100,000 fine or jail term if caught

…National bird to be designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Species

The scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber), named after its brilliant scarlet feathers, is no doubt a representation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the only shorebird in the world with a red coloration. It broke my heart this week to know, yet again, this national symbol has been hunted and killed by a few of our very own locals. This incident resulted in a public outcry on social media as these beautiful birds are protected under our local wildlife laws.

AFTER three poachers were caught with the carcasses of scarlet ibis, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) has initiated the process to designate the national bird as an Environmentally Sensitive Species (ESS).

A request was made by Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat for the EMA to expedite this initiative as there have been increased poaching activities occurring at the Caroni Swamp, which is threatening he species.

Anyone found with any of the Environmentally Sensitive Species will face the penalty as the fine is $100,000 and imprisonment for two years.

Three men appeared before a Chaguanas magistrate last week after they were allegedly held with carcasses of the scarlet ibis.

The accused were identified as Shivanand Ramnarine, 23, of Bamboo Settlement, Randy Bachan, 35, and Brian Ramlogan, 18, both of El Socorro.

The men were charged of being in possession of a prohibited/protected animal, and one was charged with being in a protected area without a license.

All three defendants entered a not-guilty plea. The matter was adjourned to September 7.

A Ministry of Agriculture team, including three game wardens and one honorary game warden, was conducting surveillance at the site on Monday when they spotted the men, where they attempted the flee the scene, however they were caught and detained.

According to the EMA, this is one hundred times the existing penalty which is the punitive measure needed as part of enforcement measures to prevent the decimation of the Scarlet Ibis in the Caroni Swamp.

As an additional measure has also been put in place as the EMA has declared the Caroni Swamp an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) in accordance with the ESA rules.

In a statement from the EMA said, “the EMA is also examining the increased protection of the Caroni Swamp, habitat for the Scarlet Ibis by designating it as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) under the Rules established in 2001. Although the Caroni Swamp is already protected through its designation as a Ramsar Site of International Importance (in 1993) and as a Prohibited Area under the Forests Act, the ESA designation would provide additional protection and benefits.

In 2014, Sea Turtles in Trinidad and Tobago were designated as ESS under the Environmental Sensitive Species Rules and the Scarlet Ibis is now set to benefit from this protective measure.”

Rambharat took to social media to express his delight over this move.

He said that he was happy the EMA agreed to give his request for the Scarlet Ibis to be declared an ESS a priority.
For more information about the Environmentally Sensitive Species and Areas Rules please visit the EMA's website at