SIPARIA Regional Corporation chairman Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh says reports of animals being smuggled from Venezuela must be investigated immediately. Recently, there were reports of cattle, a donkey and a horse roaming freely through Cedros.
Ramadharsingh said he learnt about this last week when he attended a pre-budget consultation in Cedros, hosted by the Opposition United National Congress (UNC). He said the concerns raised by residents made it clear to him “there were serious and legitimate concerns about animals that are possibly brought in from the mainland.”
Ramadharsingh, a veterinarian, said the people who spoke to him were “were visibly shaken and indeed very concerned about the animals that have been seen throughout the Cedros region.” He said the sudden arrival of these animals is “causing serious public health concerns.”
Against this background, Ramadharsingh said, “We are calling on the authorities. The Ministry of Agriculture and the National Security Minister to send in teams to investigate immediately whether or not these concerns are legitimate and are concerns that need to be dealt with expeditiously to avoid any public health disaster.”
Efforts to contact Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat and National Security Minister Stuart Young were unsuccessful. Rambharat previously said the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) of the ministry’s Animal Production and Health Division was dealing with this matter.
When Newsday contacted the division, an official said the CVO was not in office. The official indicated the division does deal with licences to import animals into TT.
In April, Rambharat said the ministry is monitoring the illegal importation of livestock from Venezuela. He said livestock officers and residents in South West Trinidad have seen an increase in the number of animals being transported out of the area.
“We believe these animals end up on private farms as breeding stocks and in retail outlets as meat. We also recognise that animals are sold out of private homes in areas like Endeavour in Chaguanas and over the highway in San Juan. Our vets and other animal production and health employees work with law enforcement to intercept shipments and share intelligence on the internal movement of animals. We have had some success with a few large interceptions and several smaller ones, but traffickers continue to use various tricks to get animals across the borders.”