32 honorary game wardens appointed in Tobago
A balance is needed between protecting the environment and conserving wildlife while considering the farming community.
So said THA Secretary of Food Security, Natural Resources, the Environment and Sustainable Development Nathisha Charles-Pantin, addressing 32 new honorary game wardens.
They were presented with instruments of appointment and ID cards on Friday at the Scarborough Library.
Charles-Pantin said wildlife conservation is the preservation of plants, animals and their habitats. This, she said, mitigates against the extinction of species so that future generations can enjoy them. Tobago, she said, and especially the Main Ridge Forest Reserve, is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, some endemic to the island.
“As custodians of this protected area and enforcers of legislation that directs the management of wildlife, the Department of Natural Resources and Forestry continues to co-ordinate the sustainable management of the ecosystems. This is to ensure that maximum benefits are derived and that they are not short-lived.”
She told the 32 wardens they had been invested with great responsibilities as overseers.
She said farmers are important in the drive for food security as well, noting that as an employee of the division for well over 17 years, she has been involved in many of its operations.
She said one issue remains a challenge.
“We have not been able to master dealing with wildlife as it relates to farmers. I would like us, in our efforts to protect our environment and conserve our wildlife, to consider the farming community, even if we have to open back consultations, because it is known across Tobago that we continue to battle with parrots, we continue to battle with several different animals. As we pursue our food-security goals, we have to sought to find a balance between the two.”
Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Avinash Singh said TT has a rich diversity of wildlife species when compared to other Caribbean islands, due primarily to its location and geographical relationship with the South American continent.
The country’s wildlife resources, he said are of great importance to all sectors of society, playing a critical role at both the national and local levels mainly through agriculture, fishing, recreation, tourism and culture.
“Rural communities depend on a variety of wild flora and fauna for their existence, through hunting, fishing, craft, tour-guiding and other nature-based activities. Activities such as nature tours to the Caroni Bird Sanctuary in Trinidad, forest trails, marine turtle-nesting sites and coral reefs right here in Tobago generate revenue for individuals and communities associated with these features.”
He said Trinidad’s terrestrial species of game animals support an energetic industry where the hunters are also concerned. The country’s wild flora and fauna, he said are also prized in the international pet market, particularly tropical fish, reptiles and birds, and in horticultural markets.
“Through the cabinet, the government has appointed 396 honorary game wardens, and the statistics would show the last number appointed, way back in 2016, was 200.
"With respect to this 396, it’s quite laudable, because it’s voluntary and it demonstrates your patriotism not only to your culture, to your environment, but to our country, and it gives you that responsibility to go out there and defend and secure the sustainable harvesting, the sustainable development, of our country’s resources.”
A training workshop followed the presentations. It covered the Conservation of Wildlife Act 67:01, court proceedings, handling of wildlife and formation of the honorary game wardens’ group.
"32 honorary game wardens appointed in Tobago"