Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 23rd 2013 Contents A26
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, September 23, 2013
tourism can be
On a Saturday morning
around 9.30 am, I was
traveling east on the Churchill
Roosevelt Highway heading
for Mayaro as I had not been
there for about two years.
When I got to Wallerfield,
just before the turn off to the
Eastern Main Road, I
remembered reading in the
newspapers that the
government was about to
build a road, bypassing
Valencia, connecting to the
road that takes you to
That bypass road should
have been built 20 years ago,
but say what.
On that morning the traffic
into Valencia was not that
bad but the road from
Valencia to Sangre Grande,
onto Manzanilla and onto
Mayaro was rough, uneven,
with pot holes, really terrible.
After a two-and-a-half
hour drive I finally arrived in
Mayaro to join family and
friends at a house on the
Mayaro is such a beautiful
place, not for its sea water,
but for the miles of beach
and the constant breeze.
Imagine if the Government
got together with the
Company (TDC) and
encouraged an international
hotel chain to invest, by
putting down a four star
hotel in Mayaro, with golf
course, tennis courts, etc.
Imagine what that would
do, not only for foreign
tourism, but also for local
I believe once that is in
place, it would encourage a
lot of smaller hotels to set up
shop. This would help with
the employment of locals, as
construction and tourism
employ a lot of people
directly and indirectly.
But before we talk about
developing the tourist
industry in Mayaro, the first
thing that needs to be done,
is the upgrading of the roads,
Valencia/Sangre Grande to
forgetting also upgrading the
roads to Toco and Matelot.
Imagine when tourists
arrive in Trinidad with the
intention of spending a
vacation in Mayaro, they
could have the option of not
only staying in the Mayaro
area, but also of taking a
drive to Sangre Grande, do
some shopping or head to
Toco and enjoy the beautiful
scenic drive and sea bathing
in that area.
Imagine if there was
another option for those
same tourist where they
could board a ferry and sail
from Toco to Tobago to
spend the day.
Tourist who are also
vacationing in Tobago could
take that same ferry to Toco
and do the opposite by taking
that scenic drive through
Toco to Sangre Grande and
on to Mayaro.
Imagine one day we get a
government which has
foresight, and is serious
about development of the
tourism industry in T&T, this
would only be the start of
the icing on the cake.
It's Your Write
Ganga Singh, Minister of the
Environment and Water
Resources (MEWR), announced a
proposed two-year hunting ban,
starting October 1, stiff increases in
fines for illegal hunting and a criti-
cal baseline survey to determine
how much wildlife is in the bush.
Last week I wrote about going
undercover as a poacher to research
the realities of wildlife conservation
in T&T. If caught, I d have been
fined $2000 or six months in jail.
The proposed fine for my crime of
"Hunting in the closed season with-
out a special game license and not
under the special conditions to
exercise dogs in lands other than
Forest Reserves and Game Sanctuar-
ies" is $100,000 or 24 months in
jail. I was willing to pay $2,000, but
$100,000? Nope. I ll walk the
straight and narrow.
Wildlife farming was mentioned
as a means to provide wild meat for
the national palette and income for
Raising wild animals for con-
sumption is better than unsustain-
ably harvesting them from the for-
est, but how can farm-raised
wildlife (now there s a contradiction
in terms) be kept apart from
poached or smuggled wild meat?
The importation of wild meat
raises a similar problem. There is no
realistic way to regulate it; you lose
incentives for wildlife farming and
it s unethical to take another coun-
try s resources after you ve depleted
your own. Importing wild meat
opens a Pandora s box that can
undo all the good proposals
announced. You may also import a
host of wildlife diseases. Keep that
Wildlife farming to replenish ani-
mal stocks in forests, now that s a
There s a lesson in recent history.
Up until 2011 the Fisheries Act cre-
ated a loophole which allowed the
hunting of endangered sea turtles.
Among others, male turtles could be
caught 1,000 yards from the shore-
line. Now you need to know that
it s virtually impossible to tell a
male from a female turtle. Every-
body apprehended with a turtle
would claim it was caught outside
the 1,000 yard zone. The result was
a lively trade in endangered turtle
meat. This government did what no
other government did before, and
granted turtles total protection.
Having 14 Game Wardens for
Trinidad is like having two police
cars to patrol the island. I m an
outdoorsman. I have never encoun-
tered a game warden in the bush.
Never. Hunters and poachers tell me
the same. This is of no fault of the
game wardens. There just aren t
enough of them.
One of my friends is a forester.
He told me he was so happy about
the ban and fine increase that he
nearly cried. He says that most of
the Forestry officers are for the ban,
but with the fine increased to
$100,000 there s a serious chance
that armed poachers will shoot their
way out of an arrest. He s not pre-
cepted or licensed to carry a
firearm; regardless, he s going to
patrol day and night when the sea-
son starts. He s one of my heroes.
The enforcement plan seems
based on the horizontal use of
resources. Army and police will
patrol the forests. It s essential that
game wardens, honourary game
wardens or foresters be embedded
with these patrols. Police and Army
are not trained in wildlife matters;
we don t want any "incidents"
involving protected animals and
There may even be a role for con-
servation-minded hunters. Hunters
can be the best conservationists.
They are among those with the
most to gain from a successfully
enforced moratorium. During the
moratorium an adequate amount of
game wardens must be trained to
police the future. Recruitment
should have started yesterday.
Enforcement is key to the success of
any law. There are valid concerns
that some parts of the bush may
become inaccessible due to pipe
guns and marijuana fields. Decrimi-
nalisation of ganja may help make
our forests safer.
I once helped save an endangered
Pawi (Trinidad Piping Guan) from a
poacher in Brasso Seco. The Pawi is
endemic to Trinidad. Officially there
are only 200 left. It s what we call
critically endangered with extinction.
The assisting police officer declined
to arrest the poacher because he
didn t know the Conservation of
Wildlife Act, or knows what a Pawi
looked like. Rural police officers
should be trained in wildlife matters.
The ban amounts to a criminalisa-
tion of hunting and it s the result of
decades of failure of policy, enforce-
ment and education. Tens of thou-
sands of poachers; 407 illegal, per-
manent hunting camps; one of the
world s longest hunting seasons; no
bag limits. We are in a race to the
bottom and somebody had to pull
the brake. Without enforcement, it
will all be for naught.
BAN WILL BE FOR NAUGHT
MARC DE VERTEUIL
Links Archive September 22nd 2013 September 24th 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page