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Trouble for birdsin 'paradise'

Craving some warm sunshine and an opportunity to enjoy Tobago's famed bird life, we arrived in the beautiful island following a comfortable direct flight from London and thought we had landed in paradise.

We spent two weeks in the north of the island and a month in the south and until then we had loved every moment—the warm hospitality, friendly people, fantastic beaches and swimming. In particular, we relished the outings with Tobago's knowledgeable and professional bird guides with whose assistance we saw and identified more than 160 birds.

Having had a magical day swimming at Turtle Beach, enjoying the antics of the wonderful brown pelicans and diving terns, we sought to repeat this experience on Christmas Day. To our dismay while swimming in the bay near where the pelicans had landed we heard a number of gunshots.

On our return to the shore one of our party who had been bird- watching informed us that the gunshots had been directed at the pelicans, four of which had been killed, retrieved from the water and taken away by two men in a blue boat which left in the direction of the Plymouth jetty.

This occurrence distressed us greatly. In a country that clearly cherishes its natural life, which is also highly valued by the many visitors who come especially to engage with it, we felt it important to put on record our concern and highlight the need for ongoing vigilance to protect Tobago's magnificent natural heritage.

Mary and Joseph Briggs and Elizabeth Sullivan

UK and Ireland

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