The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries has taken the initiative to use technology – drones - to protect the national bird. Drones, unmanned aircraft which are guided remotely, can be used to precisely monitor illegal poaching activities in the Caroni Swamp, which is soon to be declared as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA).
Over the last week, several test flights were conducted, zooming in on the birds’ roosting and nesting sites as well as the several rivers channels in the swamp which are commonly used as boat transport routes.
Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Clarence Rambharat, who has fully supported the initiative, said:“For several months I have been exploring the use of drones and other technology in law enforcement areas in the Ministry. Some are already in use by agencies that we work with. More recently I have seen what drones and other technology can do for us in managing the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, the Queen’s Park Savannah, the Zoo and other public and environmentally sensitive spaces. I have also seen how the big budgets proposed by the Ministry can be significantly reduced and how better selection of Human Resources and contractors can improve what we do. This is happening and I am pleased with where we are headed.”
The project is supported by the Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago Inc and the Serpentarium in collaboration with the Wildlife Section, Forestry Division, Ministries of Planning and Development, Rural Development and Local Government, National Security, Works and Transport and Tourism, The Environmental Management Authority (EMA), Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA), Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA), The San Juan Laventille Regional Corporation, CEPEP, URP and the Solid Waste Management Company.
This step forward is safeguarding the swamp would not only protect the scarlet ibis but provide added protection for the many other species of wildlife including mammals, reptiles and other birds inhabiting the ecosystem.
Chief Game Warden and Conservator of Forests, Courtenay Park, is happy the Ministry will use modern technological methods to protect the swamp.
The information gathered from the flying drones will be immediately transferred to officers stationed on the ground at several locations throughout the area.
Any illegal activity sighted will rapidly attended to by these officers.