Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 13th 2013 Contents A29
letters on sunday
October 13, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
The Trinidad & 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-east
It is our observation that
some hunting areas have
become excessively popular,
so that the concentration of
hunters in these places dur-
ing hunting season makes a
mockery of conservation. One
such area is the Edward
Field connecting road.
In October 2011, club
members conducted a survey
of illegal hunting structures
erected in the Guayaguayare
oilfields and along the con-
necting road from Guayagua-
yare 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 defense for wildlife popu-
lations, ie, 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 per-
mit 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 materi-
als, and it would appear that
they enjoy a level of indiffer-
ence from Petrotrin. One of
the better established camps
then included a generator,
water supply and was appar-
ently permanently occupied.
Additionally, in 2011 in the
307 area of the Navet field,
one group had even built a
"hunting tractor" which was
commonly parked at the old
307 compressor shed. This
tractor was a D4 Caterpillar
with two decks, the first
having accommodation for
hunting dogs and the upper
level for transporting person-
nel. With such a vehicle,
hunters could penetrate far
into the forest away from
roads with equipment and
supplies, so causing a dispro-
portionate amount of distur-
bance to remote wildlife
habitats. It is noted that the
tractor was parked on
Petrotrin roadways in full
view in areas covered by
their No Hunting signage.
The Trinidad & Tobago
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
TOO MANY HUNTING CAMPS
Carcasses of 55 agouti and one tattoo seized last
year in Debe. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
A mother agouti and her pup.
Hunting moratoria generally have
failed the world over for many reasons.
This moratoria will be no different. Citi-
zens do not care about the environment.
1. Wanton littering. I have been to al-
most every inch of this island and have
yet to find a beach where rubbish cannot
be found. People routinely discard waste
everywhere, without a care in the world.
2. Disregard for game laws pertinent
to the hunting of protected species and
hunting during the closed season. This is
normally done by poachers and not legal
sport hunters. These poachers set trap
guns and may also use unlicensed
firearms, both homemade and commer-
cial.3. Quarrying, both legal and illegal,
and the disregard of laws for same. The
hills of the north-eastern end of Trinidad
and prime flat forests are being de-
stroyed daily by such activity. The quar-
ried areas are also not refilled as required
by law. Prime wildlife habitat is de-
stroyed daily by this type of activity.
4. Destruction of forests and forests
reserves by activities such as logging
and squatting. Recent examples of this
can be seen by looking at the Aripo and
Melajo forest reserves. Recently, a land
grab occurred in the Melajo forest re-
serve, and to all intents and purposes,
hundreds of houses were regularised and
acres of forest reserve were cleared and
burnt to the ground. Houses also exist all
over the Aripo forest reserve, and have
been there for years without hassle.
5. Human activity such as develop-
ment and oil exploration works. Where
were the tree huggers when big names
were blasting away the Trinity Hills with
dynamite a year or so ago? They cer-
tainly were not with the hunting groups
who were lobbying for an end to the de-
For years, hunters have indicated that
the data collection forms are inaccurate,
yet the minister foolishly uses this to
justify the hasty ban.
I have done surveys for the last sea-
son which involved photographic evi-
dence of animal activity, and the
abundance of wildlife is astounding. I
have captured photos of ocelots, lappe,
deer and agouti very close to human
habitation and houses. In one area in a
week, I photographed 12 different agouti
and many deer.
Coming out of the wildlife ban we are
certain to experience the following:
1. A drastic decrease in wildlife due to
2. A proliferation of trap guns
3. An increase in marijuana cultivation
4. No accurate wildlife count
5. Profits for a few, from wild meat
Hunters know the forest and the
wildlife numbers and patterns. They
should have been consulted. Most
hunters would have supported a morato-
rium if done the right way, but not one
that is shoved down their throats.
Why have we not had enforcement of
the Wildlife Act as it pertains to the
closed season, if we are so concerned
about the environment?
Citizens should educate themselves
fully about hunters before typing letters
with inaccurate information. They should
also seek to enter the forest to learn
more about our flora and fauna instead
of simply reading about it.
I wish and hope the moratorium suc-
ceeds, but this isn't realistic.
Quick question: how can you have a
moratorium yet it is still legal to possess
wild meat? Ponder that!
Hunting moratorium will fail
Eid was supposed to be celebrated on
Thursday, August 8. The Government in
their wisdom gave the holiday on Friday,
August 9. Long weekend, perhaps?
Divali is supposed to be celebrated on
Sunday, November 3. Monday, November 4
should be a public holiday. The Government
is giving the holiday on Saturday, November
2. The St Joseph by-election is Monday,
November 4. Any connection?
Madam Prime Minister, you will pay the
the political price. The religious heads will
say what you want them to say.
Muslims and Hindus are the Govern-
ment's greatest supporters. Why the disre-
spect? The battered wife syndrome? Will
they still be loyal no matter what is done to
Is Christmas still December 25, 2013?
Is Christmas still December 25?
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