Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, Ganga Singh Sunday paid a visit to the facility which belongs to the Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago (ZSTT). The wildfarm will be a joint exercise with the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources.
The ZSTT has been one of the first among the environmental non-governmental organisations reported in the media as being strongly supportive of the recently announced two-year moratorium on hunting made by Singh.
President of the Society, Gupte Lutchmedial confirmed that this is their official position indicating that it must be understood that this viewpoint is in fact representative of the board and the general membership.
Lutchmedial explained that the Society was extremely pleased that the Minister took this landmark decision, which he saw as a win-win for conservation. “I am so happy that come October, the animals in the forests would not be terrorised by hungry dogs and gun and cutlass-toting hunters who venture into the animals’ own territory and extract them under the guise of sport,” he lamented. Continuing, he stated, “Trinidad and Tobago has been known to have a more than generous hunting season of five months, where game species are easy target for the thousands of legal and illegal hunters, and it is time that we put the animals first and give them refuge and peace all-year round.”
Sundar Seecharan, who is a ZSTT Board member, with over 40 years experience in the agricultural sector, took the opportunity to provide information on the tangible means of support the Society would be providing to ensure the moratorium achieves a successful outcome. “The Society is engaging in a partnership with the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources to establish a model wildlife farm that would be used for demonstration purposes to others interested in setting up their own wildlife farms,” he said. Details provided on this initiative reveal that establishment of this model wildlife farm has already started at the Society’s 360-acre offsite facility at Brigand Hill, Manzanilla and farming of agouti, deer, lappe and wildhog will take place there on a large-scale basis.
Seecharan was able to confirm that the Society is currently engaged in negotiations with wildlife suppliers in Guyana for stock, which if approved for importation by the regulatory bodies, would avoid further pressures on our diminishing wild populations with the added value of introducing new gene pools.
When asked to respond to the views of several persons that during the moratorium, the Government is not obliged to provide alternative sources of wildmeat, Lutchmedial indicated that availability of wildmeat is only one of the benefits to come out from such an initiative. In his response, he added, “We are looking at the longer term benefits of having animals to replenish populations where they are in decline, making the progeny available to farmers out there looking for stock enhancement and hopefully, to reduce hunting pressures brought upon the animals by those commercial hunters who profit all-year round from their illegal spoils.” Continuing, he said, “There is also the sustainable development perspective especially for rural communities where they can have wildmeat both for sustenance and as an additional source of income.”