‘Crime against TT’
By LAUREL V WILLIAMS Tuesday, October 8 2013
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CHARGED: Scarlet Ibis poachers Kenny Rattan and his 15-year-old son, are escorted to the Chaguanas Magistrates Court yesterday by WASA policeman Owen ...
CHAGUANAS Magistrate Brambhanan Dubay yesterday scolded and then sent to jail for one month, a 43-year-old oyster vendor, who was charged with hunting Trinidad’s National Bird — the Scarlet Ibis — which is protected by law.
Before sentencing Kenny Rattan, a father of four, Dubay scolded him saying, “this is an offence...a crime against Trinidad and Tobago!” Rattan and one of his children, aged 15, both appeared before Dubay charged with having 18 carcasses of the Scarlet Ibis in their possession. “If everyone goes to hunt the Scarlet Ibis, what will be left for our grandchildren to see? Tourists come to see these and other birds. The Scarlet Ibis is Trinidad’s national bird...it is supposed to be a national treasure. You are stealing this country’s treasures,” a no-nonsense Dubay scolded Rattan.
Both father and son pleaded guilty to the charge. Dubay granted the minor $10,000 surety bail and ordered a Probation Officer’s report. The minor was ordered to reappear in court on November 1, when Dubay after perusing the report, will decide on a suitable punishment.
After the two pleaded guilty, court prosecutor Insp Michael Jackman read the particulars of the charge, saying that at about 11 am on Sunday, Game Warden Richard Ramlogan and other officers were on foot patrol along Shipping Road Extension in Felicity near to some mangroves.
The officers later arrested Rattan and his son, whose clothing were soaked in muddy water. Rattan had a knapsack which contained the bloodstained carcasses of the freshly killed Scarlet Ibises while the minor was carrying a pellet gun and a black bag which contained two nets. A third man who was seen in the company of the father and son, managed to escape from the game warden and other officers.
Attorney Taradath Singh told Dubay his clients had journeyed to the swamp to catch oysters and they met another cousin at the location. During his plea in mitigation, Singh noted his clients were aware of the birds in a bag. However, Singh said, his clients were not the ones who captured the protected birds.
Singh told the court Rattan has one previous conviction and is the sole breadwinner in his family. The minor, Singh added, is a construction worker.
“It’s not as if you were hunting agoutis. You are not to be hunting in the first place. The Minister (Ganga Singh) has placed a ban on hunting. The hunting season has been closed down. You, being the elder, ought to have known better,” Dubay said as he spoke to Rattan.
Game Wardens Ramlogan, Andy Singh and Rajiv Maharaj and WASA police officer Owen Humlee later showed the carcasses of the Scarlet Ibises to the court, which were stored in a cooler that was stained with the birds’ blood. All of the birds had been plucked and gutted. Dubay then passed the custodial sentence on Rattan and adjourned the case of the minor.