Sunday, June 15, 2008

A bird in the hand is worth ...

It is illegal to possess the endangered blue and gold macaw, yet many of these babies are captured and gathered from their nests in the forests and sold through the nefarious animal trade. Like many illegal activities in T & T, this abominable underground business continues to thrive.

Crammed tightly together in cages, often stifling in each others' mess, these animals, like slaves, make the ocean crossing from the South American mainland to their new 'destination', Trinidad (where they are now, not surprisingly, extinct). Along the way, they experience trauma, irreparable damage or death. Those that survive are lucky ... or are they? In whose hands will they end up?

The baby macaw featured in the video clip above was fortunate enough to end up in Detta's hands. From being crammed against other birds in a transport cage, s/he is injured: cannot stand (so therefore sits in his/her own mess and has to be manually cleaned), has swollen, painful joints from the pressure of confinement, damaged rib cage, bone deformities, inability to walk (he was growing while in confinement, so there was no space for movement and stretching of tendons, resulting in shortened adductor muscles preventing him/her from walking) ... and no doubt other internal injuries.

The sounds s/he makes are not so much 'normal baby macaw sounds' as they are cries of pain and pleas for help. When I went to see the macaw last Saturday it was clear to me that, despite the traumatic journey, the little creature was still extremely trusting of humans. They are inherently loving creatures.

I learned from Detta that Trinidad and Tobago, this twin island republic which continues to boast of our 'unique wildlife' in tourism publications, is a signatory to the CITES convention (yet we have never written laws in support of this). There are other acts (e.g. the Customs Act) ... but it would seem that they are all just words on paper.

Will there be any wildlife left for TT to boast about in a few decades?


GirlBlue said...

Poor little creature, what will become of him?

Anonymous said...

I used to be a flight attendant with BWIA. On more than one occasion, after landing in NYC, when all the passengers were off the aircraft and we were getting ready to leave, I would hear hundreds of parrots in the hold. I would look outside only to see crates and crates of these birds coming off with the rest of the luggage. It was heart wrenching to see and listen to.
I always wondered why this was allowed.

Sadly I do think that a lot of what the people in charge of this country say, and even write on paper are just words. We like to say a lot of things, but there never seems to be any action behind it.

I don't think that there will be much wildlife left in TT in the next few decades. We are not doing much to look after now, are we?

Shereen said...

Maybe about 10 years ago when I was working for The Trinidad Guardian I wrote a piece on wildlife and hunters. In the course of researching it, I visited the Wildlife Division. What struck me is that it was so underfunded, there may be caring biologists and others working there, but I couldn't help feeling their hands were tied.

I also saw that the general population doesn't care about animal life if their own is under stress.

Habitat protection, and enforced laws, are important. But I don't think that direction will come from Government. I also think that issues like habitat/environment and poverty are connected.

How we choose to live affects all other life, usually in a bad way, as we continue to strip away the resources and biodiversity that supports us, without nurturing and renewing it.

Perhaps it is only if a caring nucleus of folks demand change, it can start to happen. The next time a cargo of baby parrots comes into the country, for instance, someone should make a huge stink about it, and try to get the trade stopped!