Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 6th 2013 Contents A9
October 6, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
How was the head count done?
In 1990, 1993 and 2007 by the
University of the West Indies in col-
laboration with the University of
Wisconsin, where it was found that
the population density of our wildlife
was much lower than the rest of
Latin America and the Caribbean.
(Again referring to his notes) And
in the hunter return forms from 2010
to 2013, we found a certain trend;
agouti, more than 65,000 were
hunted; deer 6,400; lappe, more
than 20,000; wild hog (quenk)
almost 1,000; tattoo, more than
The trend pointed to almost total
extinction of certain species if we
continued like that, so we had to
Did those figures give an idea of
the approximate total number of
these animals in existence?
And that is the problem. You have
the hunters saying you cannot take
decisions on that because no density
survey was done and that those
wildlife returns are wrong on the
forms, which the hunters themselves
now have a proper survey done by
local and international experts, but
you cannot have such an exercise
while you have hunting taking place,
and that is one of the principal rea-
sons for the moratorium---to do that
wildlife population density survey.
And that survey is being done by
UWI, again, in collaboration with
personnel from the University of
Apart from a threat to their liveli-
hood the hunters claim that with
them out of the forest marijuana
planters would have a field day (no
Marijuana? Clevon that is another
untruth told by the hunting frater-
nity. I asked the Minister of National
Security whether in the last year
there has been any report by the
hunting community of any mari-
juana plantation in Trinidad.
(Resolutely) There has never been
any report. None from the ministry.
Every year the ministry together with
the Americans do a weed eater exer-
cise; they have mapped all the mar-
ijuana plantations in Trinidad, they
do not depend on the hunters for
Clevon, there are 407 illegal hunt-
ing camps, so my approach to that
is to clear the environment of every-
thing and have a clean slate. And
how do you deal with the demand
for wild meat in this country? In the
short term we will be looking at the
importation of wild meat.
Senator Singh, my tape recorder
is running out of "juice" and we
cannot end this chat unless we dis-
cuss St Joseph, where a by-election
is scheduled for early next month.
You have been appointed to manage
the affairs of the constituency, how
is this coming along?
I have lived in the constituency
for quite a while, and I have been
conscripted by the prime minister
to become the caretaker and care-
giver, and we are doing our work to
ensure the PP wins that by-election
and retain that seat.
If Mr Warner is to be believed,
so many people are backing out
from contesting on behalf of the
PP as if it was a leper...
(Sullen expression while gently
tapping his desk) I don t know where
Mr Warner gets his information
from, and his politics is yesterday is
yesterday, therefore, what he says
today is not to be believed tomor-
The PP is going through a meas-
ure of unpopularity at this time,
would the local government and
by-elections in the constituency in
any way indicate the popularity or
unpopularity of the PP?
Clevon, we have a healthy democ-
racy in Trinidad and Tobago which
is exemplified by the number of
national elections we have held in
recent years, and we are confident
of keeping St Joseph in the fold of
the People s Partnership adminis-
tration under the astute leadership
of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
'PP Govt will keep St Joseph'
From Page A8
We have a healthy democracy in Trinidad and Tobago which is
exemplified by the number of national elections we have held
in recent years, and we are confident of keeping St Joseph in
the fold of the People's Partnership administration under the
astute leadership of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
"He went to the police and the
police told him to go and get the
records from the telephone com-
In light of the threats, Maharaj
has dispatched letters to the Prime
Minister, the acting Commissioner
of Police and National Security
Minister to look into the matter.
Maharaj said witnesses often run
scared because the promises made
by the State are not kept.
"Today, the public know where
the safe houses are. The Govern-
ment is not providing proper secu-
rity. So how could you fight crime
if you do not provide the
Govt should pursue plea
Fired justice minister, Herbert
Volney said every year the state
forks out $20 million to protect wit-
Up to his time in office, Volney
said there were approximately 90
individuals in the programme who
did nothing except read newspapers,
watched television and get fat off
"They get accustomed to a certain
lifestyle...you don t want to work
again. They are living free off the
VoIney said in the last three years,
as far as he can remember, only one
witness and his family came off the
He said several witnesses have
been in the programme for years.
"Many of them are not even wit-
nesses, but are family of witness-
es."Of the 90 witnesses, Volney said,
about four live in Canada, while the
others reside at undisclosed loca-
tions in T&T.
The State, Volney said, feeds,
clothes, rents a home, provides cable
TV and even pays the witnesses a
stipend every month.
The average rent for a house, Vol-
ney said, was $6,000.
The stipend, he said was not
much, but accumulatively it was a
"a tidy sum."
The bulk of the $20 million, Vol-
ney said, goes towards general
administration, rentals of homes,
stipends and salaries.
Volney said a key element in solv-
ing crime depended heavily on the
testimony of eyewitnessess and the
effectiveness of the programme.
Volney said even though Cabinet
had approved $1.2 billion last year
for construction of 24 court houses
"not one contract had been award-
The court houses were to be built
from Penal to Trincity to address
historical and news cases coming
into the system.
"The problem lies with the justice
system and the witness system not
being synchronised. As result cases
With no new court houses in
sight, Volney suggested that the
Government aggressively pursue
plea bargaining, whereby the defen-
dant pleads guilty to a lesser charge
in the hope of leniency to bringing
closure to some of the cases.
He said the Government also has
the option of renting buildings and
turning them into temporary court
houses to ease the backlog of cases.
"The Ministry of Justice has gone
to sleep. I feel sorry for these wit-
nesses because they can t get on
with their lives. Their lives are being
destroyed by the State. It is a prob-
lem that is being swept under the
carpet. If you don t have to work
and get three squares meals a day,
a subsistence, your rent paid, clothes
and cable, that is the kind of life a
person like me would look forward
to. That is life in London."
Next week---State witnesses living
in police station
Game Warden Ramlochan, left, shows Environment Minister Ganga Singh the remains of an endangered lizard
commonly known as the matte that was discovered during an excercise in Moruga yesterday. Singh lead a
contingent 50-plus law enforcement officers through Morouga and Guyaguyare to look at the operations of
hunters. PHOTO: SHASTRI BOODAN
Volney: Lives are being destroyed by the State
From Page A6
Former justice minister
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