Targeting legal sport hunters will only help poachers, hurt wildlife
It is with great amazement that I sat and listened to the rumours abounding since early April 2013 about a proposed hunting moratorium to be established later in the year. I have also looked on in amazement as the rumours came to past as not only rumours but as matters of fact.
Here we are in October 2013 with a hunting moratorium, initially set for two years by the minister under whose portfolio the Forestry Division falls. Hunting moratoria generally have failed the world over for many reasons and, unfortunately, this moratoria will be no different. The citizens of this country do not care about the environment. This can be clearly demonstrated by observing the following:
1. Wanton littering
Take a look anywhere around and you will see what I mean. I have been to almost every inch of this island and have yet to find a beach where rubbish cannot be found. People routinely discard waste any and everywhere without a care in the world.
2. Disregard for game laws pertinent to the hunting of protected species and
hunting during the closed season
This type of hunting is normally done by the poachers and not the legal sport hunters. These poachers set trap guns and may also utilise unlicensed firearms, both homemade and commercial.
3. Quarrying, both legal and illegal, and the disregard of laws for same
The hills of the north-eastern end of Trinidad and prime, flat forests are being destroyed daily by such activity. The quarried areas are also not refilled as required by law. Prime wildlife habitat is destroyed daily by this type of activity.
4. Destruction of forests and forest reserves by activities such as logging and squatting
Recent examples of this can be seen by looking at the Aripo and Melajo forest reserves. Recently, a land grab occurred in the Melajo forest reserve and, for all intents and purposes, hundreds of houses were regularised and acres of reserved forest cleared and burned to the ground. Houses also exist all over the Aripo forest reserve and have been so for years, without hassle.
5. Human activity such as development and oil exploration works
Where were the tree-huggers when big names were blasting away the Trinity Hills with dynamite a year or so ago? They certainly were not with the hunting groups who were lobbying for an end to the destruction.
Why target the sport hunters who hunt only for five months of the year and do so legally? The data upon which this ban is based is totally inaccurate, and there is certainly an abundance of wildlife in our forests. The regular people on the street or who sit in their air-conditioned offices will not know this since most have never set foot into the forest.
For years, hunters have indicated the data-collection forms are inaccurate, yet the minister foolishly uses this to justify the hasty ban. I have done surveys for the last season which involved photographic evidence of animal activity and the abundance of wildlife is astounding, to say the least. I have captured photos of ocelots, lappe, deer and agouti very close to human habitation and houses. In one area in a week, I photographed 12 different agouti and numerous deer.
Coming out of the wildlife ban, we are certain to experience the following:
1. A drastic decrease in wildlife due to poaching.
2. A proliferation of trap guns to the point where people will be afraid to venture into the forests and will be injured or killed, moreso.
3. An increase in marijuana cultivation and number of plantations.
4. No definitive or accurate count of the wildlife population.
5. Immense benefits to some people due to wild meat sales.