Make your voices heard on wildlife ban
The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, earlier this year, gave an opportunity to all interested persons and organisations to express their views on wildlife conservation by holding consultations in various parts of Trinidad and Tobago, and by inviting the submission of proposals for the consideration of the ministry.
I have been informed that most of the conservation groups did submit their proposals to the ministry, but since that time, in my opinion, they have been relatively silent.
There have been only a few letters to the editor and only from two or three individuals.
Meanwhile, members of the Hunters Association are making their voices heard. They are determined to maintain the status quo,
and this they are entitled to do. Their
1. Enjoying a 12-month hunting season annually. Five months with guns and dogs and seven months with dogs during the closed season, popularly known as “exercising of dogs”
2. Trespassing on privately owned land with impunity. Apparently, hunters consider this to be their “right”
3. The sale of wild meat
4. The capture and sale of songbirds for the pet trade
5. The issue of 20,000 hunting licences annually. This is excessive. The number of hun-ting licences issued annually should bear a rela-
tionship to the number
of game animals which remain in the forest
6. Hunting without knowing how many of each species of game animal remain in the forest. This must cease. Inventory of each species is urgently required. An estimate of the game population must be determined annually before any licences are issued. Licences must be issued by a lottery draw
7. Fourteen game wardens to patrol the 1,980 square miles that is Trinidad and Tobago is unrealistic. An increase in the number of game wardens is urgently required.
8. Penalties imposed on offenders found guilty are too low and do not act as a deterrent to would-be offenders.
For success of the hunting moratorium to be achieved, there must be the dedication to duty and the will to succeed by all staff members of the Wildlife Section and those of the Forestry Division.
There must be dissemination of information about the amendments to the law, especially among rural communities. Residents must appreciate the long-term benefits to be derived from leaving the game animals unmolested to breed and
to multiply for two years.
The co-operation of the police, magistracy, Coast Guard, Customs and, most importantly, the general public is required if conservation and sustainable management of our wildlife resources are to be achieved.
Wildlife conservationists, it has taken 50 years for this attempt at significantly amending the Conservation of Wildlife Act of 1958.
I am urging you to make your voices heard now because another opportunity like the present one may not recur in the near future.