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Jack lends hand in animal rehabilitation

Tuesday, July 27 2010

click on pic to zoom in
ANIMAL TALK: Left to right, President of the Manatee Conservation Trust Lisa Ramkissoon- Maharaj, MP for Cumuto-Manzanilla Collin Partap and Minister ...
ANIMAL TALK: Left to right, President of the Manatee Conservation Trust Lisa Ramkissoon- Maharaj, MP for Cumuto-Manzanilla Collin Partap and Minister ...

In what should have been a round of campaigning for the Minister of Works, Jack Warner in the Plum Mitan district this Saturday, instead turned out to be a red letter day for a pair of endangered blue and gold macaws at a rehabilitation facility in Brigand Hill.

The Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago (ZSTT) had planned the release of these rehabilitated birds, and seized the opportunity to invite Mr Warner who was in the vicinity looking at the state of the roads, to participate in this significant event. Mr Warner was accompanied by the Parliamentary representative for the area, Collin Partap, who is quite familiar with the facility.

The two macaws were once part of the illegal wildlife trade and had been resident at the ZSTT’s Brigand Hill Animal Rehabilitation Keep (BHARK) for the past six months in preparation for release into the wild.

This facility which serves as the sister offsite facility for the Emperor Valley Zoo and was established with the assistance of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Manatee Conservation Trust has been instrumental in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade. Birds and other animals seized by wildlife enforcement officers have found a home there until those which are native to Trinidad can be released.

This was the case on Saturday which saw the culmination of a rehabilitation protocol engaged in by the ZSTT and its partners to secure the release of these birds. This involved acclimatisation to the natural habitat and monitoring of their flight capability and health conditions. First President of the ZSTT, Ben De la Rosa explanied afterwards, “This site here was carefully selected as it really immerses the birds in a naturalistic setting, almost as if they are already in the wild.”

The ZSTT expressed its pleasure at the involvement of the Minister and the Parliamentary representative for the area in this event and remarked on the timing which coincided with the readiness of the birds for release. Also on hand to witness the event was the President of the Manatee Conservation Trust, Ms Lisa Ramkissoon-Maharaj, who is a joint-venture partner in this project. De La Rosa in placing this release in context, reminded that this is the continuation of a conservation programme to reintroduce a once extirpated species into its native habitat.

Minister Warner also took the time to tour the facility and was impressed by the infrastructure in place. More so he was struck by the initiatives being undertaken to make the facility self-sufficient. For food, there is an expansive fruit grove which is already bearing fruit but in the near future will supply most of the food requirements. His interest was peaked however with the facility’s water supply which is being treated on site to make it potable and the provisions for solar and wind energy.

As for the release itself, this was deemed successful by the parties present as the bird flew off into the surrounding forested areas with vigour. Monitoring exercises conducted by the ZSTT and officials of the Forestry Division since have revealed sightings of them in the area, which should come as no surprise as there is an abundance of natural food throughout, and the area is well protected.

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