when hunters ‘settle’ in the forest
WE at the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club would like to voice our support for the Minister of the Environment and Water Resources’ recent decision to see to the removal of illegal hunting camps scattered about the forests of south-eastern Trinidad. One such area is the Edward Trace/Guayaguayare Main Field connecting road.
In October 2011, club members conducted a survey of illegal hunting structures erected in the Guayaguayare oilfields and along the connecting road from Guayaguayare to Edward Trace. These structures were built for the purpose of overnight and/or weekend stays in the forest, thus removing the last form of defence for wildlife populations i.e. remoteness from areas of population.
At that time, photographs and locations of 22 camps were noted in the survey and at least 11 other camps were known in Edward Trace and Navet, but time did not permit their recording. The total number was probably at least twice the total documented. Neither is it suggested that this is the only area with illegal camps. The problem exists throughout Trinidad and no doubt, Tobago.
Petrotrin, the party having a lease on these areas, has apparently had some policies in the past that attempted to prevent hunting in the Navet and Moruga West oilfields. This is evidenced by painted signs advising the prohibition of hunting within the oilfield. However, some of these structures have gone far beyond the stage of simple shelters using natural materials, and it would appear that they enjoy a level of indifference from Petrotrin.
The Field Naturalists’ Club is not advocating the banning of hunting in properly regulated seasons, but believes that the Government, Petrotrin and other holders of active leases in forested areas have a responsibility to ensure that the abuse of our plant and animal resources does not take place under their watch.
Trinidad & Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club