Tobago farmers want the ban on certain wild animals lifted. They say that wildlife such as the agouti, parakeet and parrot are pests that ravage their crops.
As a result they recently met with Chief Secretary Orville London to raise the issue and he is seeking a meeting with the Minister of Water Resources and the Environment Ganga Singh to discuss the two-year ban on the hunting of wildlife.
The Chief Secretary told Wednesday’s post Executive Council media briefing that the ban was imposed without consultation with the Tobago interest groups. He said he had met the two hunting organisations and the Wildlife Association whose members rear wild animals and they were very interested in conservation.
He said consensus around the table was that this particular situation was dangerous from the perspective of the way in which it was done and the fact it was done without any consultation and any consideration with respect to Tobago. He said farmers have also voiced their concern.
London said there was consensus that the ban had to be looked at from various perspectives including preservation or conservation and “we in Tobago are prepared to send a very strong signal that we are interested in and willing to be in the forefront of conservation”.
“In fact,” he added, “we are looking at certain species which we consider endangered; the iguana which we feel we should really protect because it is endangered.”
He said the authorities should now deal with animals which were considered to be pests including the agouti, parrot and parakeet. “We have to put the cocorico in a special category because from the perspective of the farmer it is a pest, it is also the national bird.”
In terms of the other animals, London said it would have to be determined whether “we want to use culling or hunting in order to treat with that situation. He said the Assembly would do its own research in the Tobago context to ensure that decisions are made taking into consideration all the relevant data.
“We are very much committed to the precautionary approach and therefore we would not be willing to support anything that is likely to risk the endangerment of any of the species but we believe that in the Tobago context there is room for reconsideration of this measure and I am hoping to meet with the Minister shortly in order to discuss this particular issue,” he said.