Minister expresses horror as caiman found hanging from tree
Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis has expressed horror and concern following the circulation of recent photographs of a slaughtered caiman hanging from a tree.
In a statement, she said it is especially disconcerting that the act has occurred out of the hunting season. But, even if it were the hunting season, she said it was not a humane hunting practice.
Minister Robinson-Regis has engaged the necessary authorities asking for a full investigation into the matter. She has also announced her support of Police Commissioner Gary Griffith’s recent initiative of having the police work hand in hand with animal welfare groups and communities to enforce animal cruelty laws.
According to Section 79 of the Summary Offences Act it is an offence to ill-treat animals.
"79. (1) Any person who cruelly beats, ill-treats, starves, over-drives, overrides, overloads, abuses, tortures, or otherwise maltreats any animal is liable to a fine of four hundred dollars or to imprisonment for two months.
Minister Robinson-Regis will give immediate attention to increasing the penalties for such acts.
A year ago, Government approved the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) for Trinidad and Tobago. The revised action plan provides an update on the status of biodiversity in T&T, whilst taking into consideration the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services to human health and well-being; the threats to biodiversity and the legal and policy context in which this NBSAP will be implemented.
The Minister said acts such as this only serve to undermine the value and importance of all facets of T&T's fragile biodiversity to citizens lives in Trinidad and Tobago.
She is hopeful that the publication of the "cowardly and heinous act" will reignite a sense of respect for the environment will foster citizen participation, and reporting of this and similar acts so that the perpetrators and any others who commit such offences can be brought to justice.
Minister Robinson-Regis also issued a call to all hunting groups, NGOs, communities to condemn such behaviour and dissuade members of the public from acting in this manner.