THE EDITOR: The cover article in the last issue of National Geographic featured Trinidad’s scarlet ibis, with the emphasis on the endangered status of the species and local poachers who hunt the bird for meat.
It therefore seems that making the Caroni Swamp into a national park and declaring the scarlet ibis a protected species has not achieved the goal of environmental preservation, let alone making these assets into tourist attractions.
This is not surprising, since this is what always happens when the State is put in charge of providing services or goods. The only reason the Caroni Swamp is not even more littered or the scarlet ibis extinct is because of the operations of tour boats.
The Nanan family has portrayed its actions in this regard as motivated by concern for the environment and their business of course benefits from preserving a pristine swamp and the main attraction of the ibis.
This is the key to preserving the swamp, its species, and creating an international tourist attraction – sell the swamp to private investors. The simple fact is that public property, whether land or buildings or buses, are never properly kept because the bureaucrats in charge have no incentive to maintain the property.
The fact of the matter is public servants do not lose money by not protecting the “national patrimony.” This is not the case with property owners, especially when the said property is used to generate profits.
If the Caroni Swamp was sold to private owners (preferably no fewer than three in order to generate competition for customers), they would naturally take steps to protect their investment. This could even solve the problem of poachers since the private owners would either institute more efficient security measures or a breeding programme to allow poaching with a subsequent increase in the scarlet ibis population.
ELTON SINGH, Couva