Trinidad's National Bird In Danger

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National dish?
Tuesday, October 8 2013
The Scarlet Ibis
Given these facts we would think that every citizen would appreciate the beauty and the importance of these birds to so many of us. The Scarlet Ibis is a bird of startling beauty, and it attracts thousands of visitors to the Caroni Bird Sanctuary each year, hundreds of these visitors coming from overseas just to enjoy the sight of flocks of these birds coming in to roost in the mangrove at sunset. Their presence, along with other wetland attractions, provides stable employment for dozens of birding and wildlife guides who take people into the Caroni Swamp each evening just to see the arrival of the Ibis.
But there are people in our country, people who live among us, for whom nothing is sacred, sacrosanct, respected or protected. These are the people who will pay large sums of money to go to certain restaurants to eat our Scarlet Ibis. The people who are sustaining the illegal entry into the Caroni Swamp, and the totally illegal shooting of the Ibis as they roost or fly in, are generally people of reasonable means. But they are people of a crude sense of braggadocio as well, for many of them eat protected species just so they can boast about it to their friends. 
And why not? Almost never will the boaster hear someone tell him that he was wrong to do this. More likely he will be the envy of his friends, who will wonder how they too might get to eat this “wild meat”, and appear to be like macho hunters as they stuff themselves on the meat of protected species. 
And apparently it is quite easy to access Scarlet Ibis on the menus of some restaurants in Trinidad. When Game Wardens can find 18 Scarlet Ibis carcasses, plucked and ready for cooking, apparently on their way to “market”, we must wonder how many of our National Birds, how many spectacularly beautiful creatures, are being shot to serve to people who certainly do not need to eat these creatures for survival or even daily sustenance? 
Game Wardens, acting upon information received were on patrol in the Cacandee area on Sunday morning when they observed three men coming out of the mangrove. Upon approaching the men, one ran off and escaped, but the other two were found to be in possession of 18 plucked Ibis carcasses. They were arrested and charged. 
According to a senior game warden, they have been receiving several reports of Ibis being killed for delivery to restaurants in Central, where the cost of an Ibis meal is said to be $150.00. In our view it is the restaurants and their patrons who are to blame for the slaughter of our National Bird, more than the poachers. We trust that, until our people become more educated and even respectful of our national emblems and heritage, that the full weight of the law will apply to the purchasers as well as the poachers. 
(From Newsday Newspaper Trinidad and Tobago  Tuesday,October 8th. 2013)


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