Hunting ban starts Oct 1
By DARCEL CHOY Thursday, September 19 2013
A hunting moratorium will take effect from October 1 for two years in order to protect the country’s wildlife from becoming extinct.
Environment Minister Ganga Singh revealed this yesterday after commissioning the Chin Chin road pipeline project in Cunupia.
His announcement follows a few days of protests by hunters outside the Forestry Division, Long Circular. They have called on the minister to confirm whether there will be a hunting season this year because many of them were waiting to purchase their licences. The hunters said when they attempted to purchase licences they were told by an official they were not selling any at that point.
Singh yesterday said the hunters could not get their licences if a moratorium was coming.
“The hunters, have a self interest. They say that wild meat is organic meat, the fact of the matter is, the numbers of hunters have increased dramatically. If this over-harvesting does not stop; if we do not put an end, or ensure that people who engage in this activity are stopped, then we would lead to the elimination of several species in this country,” he said.
These species include the agouti, lappe, deer and quenk (wild hog).
He said once the moratorium was put in place, a baseline study would be done in consultation with the University of the West Indies to determine how many animals per square kilometre there are in the country.
In addition to that, Singh said they were looking at increasing the penalties for breaches of the Conservation of Wildlife Act from a maximum of $2,000 up to between $50,000 to $100,000 together with a term of imprisonment.
He said the ministry was going on an enforcement mechanism increasing the number of Environmental Management Authority (EMA) police officers; increasing the efficiency of the foresters and the rangers so there would be an improvement in enforcement.
The minister noted there were 407 illegal camps set up in forest reserves and sanctuaries, and he was currently engaging the national security forces to have them removed.
Singh said the ministry was also teaming up with the Zoological Society, the Ministry of Food Production and the Forestry Department, and was looking at going into commercial wildlife farming. He said the funding for that project will be accessed through the Green Fund.
Buddie Miller, official delegate of the Confederation of Hunters’ Associations for Conservation, in response to the minister’s announcement said once Singh makes an official statement, they will test the legality of his decision.