Stakeholders in the wildlife protection arena are increasing public awareness programmes to
highlight the existence of “Wildlife Management and Conservation Regulations.” Environmental advocate, Annette Arjoon told Kaieteur News last week that a group of concerned stakeholders are currently working on several programmes – which are soon to be released – to educate the public on the importance of conserving the nation’s wildlife.
She said the soon-to-be-commissioned body is also working on mechanisms to address the issues facing the protection of the country’s wildlife. One mechanism, Arjoon pointed out, is ensuring public awareness. In this regard, she told the publication that it is important that persons familiarize themselves with the 2013 legislation which speaks specifically to wildlife management and conservation.
Arjoon told the publication that several wild animals that are given ‘protected’ status are still very much at risk in their habitats. She referred to the 2013 wildlife legislation which states that collecting, holding in captivity, hunting, killing, or otherwise molesting ‘protected’ species is prohibited.
She also alluded to the killing of the national animal, the Jaguar, which has ‘protected’ status. Arjoon said that the Jaguar is one of the endangered animals that the body is working towards increasing education about their existence.
In January 2013, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Panthera Corporation (Panthera), aimed at preserving the national animal. Guyana was the latest country to partner with Panthera on a regional effort to protect the species, and facilitate genetic flow between important Jaguar habitats.
The MoU provided a framework for research and surveys on the Jaguar, public education on the behaviours of large cats, and the examination of economic opportunities associated with Jaguar conservation,” the Ministry had stated.
The Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry in collaboration with the US based organization Panthera recently embarked on a project to regulate wildlife within certain areas of the country’s interior. Their intention is to locate wildlife harvesting areas, create monitoring programmes, identifying wild meat markets, and raising awareness of national and international wild life regulations among several other concerns.
Wildlife advocates are encouraging hunters and trappers to avoid over-hunting by catching only what is needed. They are also asking that the country’s closed hunting seasons be respected; wild birds are hunted from January 1 to May 31 and mammals from May 1 to July 31.
Advocates have rejected the killing of wild animals “for fun” and referred to ‘non-target’ species such as wildcats, savannah foxes. “Birds of prey are often killed or wounded intentionally by hunters who shoot at them,” an awareness poster had stated.
Citizens are being asked, however, to report wild life hunting or trapping activities believed to be questionable – to the Environmental Protection Agency. “Hunters should have the relevant permission to enter private property/lands.”
Another big issue highlighted by wildlife advocates is the demand for wild meat. Local “bushmeat” will influence hunting activities, but hunters are asked to ensure that demand does not conflict with the established closed seasons when hunting is not permitted.
“From time to time, conflicts between humans and wildlife do arise. You are encouraged to share such scenarios with the EPA so that, whenever possible, a solution could be found that may not necessarily require the killing of such wildlife causing nuisance.”
“Help to educate others about Guyana’s wildlife and emphasize the importance of protecting and conserving them for future generations,” is a theme driven by the wildlife advocates. Some of the country’s protected animals include the Giant Armadillo, Puma, Giant River Otter, Red Siskin, Arapaima and the Leatherback Turtle.
Arjoon in a recent comment had mentioned also that Guyana’s healthy wildlife population is a major tourist attraction that has seen many happy tourists returning from the Iwokrama Reserve to boast of jaguar sightings.
She said that the relative inaccessibility to the natural wildlife habitat offered much protection in the past which allowed thriving populations. “However, this is slowly changing as Guyana’s pursues its economic development with the mining and forestry sectors, both of which require access to natural resources,” she stated.
She opined also that the construction of access roads have also enabled the easy movement of hunters – some of whom operate full-time in the provision of fresh meat. Arjoon believes that the growth of the wild meat market has also caused grave concerns in relation to the preservation of the country’s wildlife.
Arjoon, a passionate conservationist, pilot and executive, is convinced that the survival of the wildlife populations depend on the collective effects of everyone to protect those animals. If not, she opined, they might not be around for the generations to come. (Zena Henry)
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