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BACK FROM THE BRINK

...Wildlife Trust reintroduces birds almost extinct in Trinidad and Tobago

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

Molly Gaskin, president and founding member of the Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust, is urging citizens to be aware of the country's wildlife and work being done towards protecting endangered species.

Gaskin said the Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust, has reintroduced two new species of waterfowl through Trust's breed and release programmes.

The White-faced whistling ducks (Dendrocygna viduata) and most of the White-cheeked pintails (Anas Bahamensis) in the Trust’s breeding stocks were destroyed by feral hounds during the struggle to protect the ecosystem services of the Nariva Swamp, from the illegal large-scale rice farmers, Gaskin said.

"People in Trinidad do not respect their own wildlife. They don't understand that these are things they must be proud of. People are proud of what they have, proud of their wildlife. It is time for us to be a first world country too." she said.

Gaskin said the Trust had embarked on education programmes to promote the value of wildlife.

She said the new additions to the Trust were almost extinct in Trinidad. "But we managed to get some back and breed them again," she said.

Gaskin said the Trust, with grant funding through the GEF/SGP/UNDP project, "Biodiversity and Human Linkages" has collaborated with Sylvan Heights Waterfowl, North Carolina, USA, to get the birds back into Trinidad.

"I must also thank the US Embassy who assisted us greatly. We went into the United States, found the birds, and were able to being them back to Trinidad for breeding and then release." she said.

Through the Breed and Release Programme at the Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust with these two species of Trinidad and Tobago’s wild ducks, 62 White faced Whistling Ducks were successfully released between 1988 and 1998 with 142 White cheeked pintails released between 1982 and 2002, she said.
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