|The Ajoupa Garden, Photo: Bunty O'Connor|
Situated in the mouth of the Orinoco River, Trinidad has terrain similar to the rainforests and mountains of South America, and most of the same species of flora and fauna. However, the islands are also home to many creatures found only there. Rare frogs found only at the top of El Tucuche mountain, flightless birds not seen anywhere else in the world. Food trees that bear valuable crops, a forested mountainside that prevents landslips and provides clean rivers to water a city.
But who cares about frogs? Only David Attenborough, apparently, who has visited Trinidad several times in his search for the rare and beautiful. And rare pawi birds? Well, apparently they don't taste that good but Trinis are happy to kill and eat most things. Add plenty pepper, so the taste doesn't matter. Water? Meh, it falls from the sky.
|Brasso Seco River Crayfish, Photo: Kelly Warren Fitzjames|
Poison is also helpful if Trinis want to get rid of something: Carrion crows known as 'Corbeaux' thrive in Trinidad because of their rich diet of garbage and dead dogs strewn on the side of the road. They offer a useful service, eating what would otherwise rot and spread disease. They are not lovely birds to look at, but I have known one or two and they are gentle and intelligent animals. And last week hundreds of them were cruelly poisoned and died in agony. I wonder if the poisoner is planning on picking up the roadkill and disposing of that, now that the Corbeaux cannot efficiently do the job?
In search of a David Attenborough YouTube clip about the rare frogs of Trinidad, I came across one of Trinis having a frog kicking contest. They laughed uproariously as the frogs peed themselves and scrambled desperately to escape. I did not watch to the gory end, and I stopped looking for YouTube videos for Trini frogs. How sad that our police service is powerless to act in cases of animal cruelty, castrated by incompetence.
Backward ever, I heard that the sweet village of Charlotteville is, as we speak, having its quaint seafood restaurants and shops demolished so a large steel and glass building can be built to block the sea view. Goodbye, tourists, hang on to your pictures of the old and picturesque Charlotteville.
|Charlotteville, Photo: Via Papa Bois?|
On one 'eco resort', people who don't know any better have cut down valuable nutmeg trees to 'develop' the site for tourism. A nutmeg tree, wow, I wonder how much that is worth per square foot of land? I can buy one nutmeg seed here for anywhere between 20 and 50 pence. When I was last at the site where the trees have since been removed, I picked up around 30 where they were lying rotting on the ground. Of course, the soft mace had rotted away, and that is even more expensive than the seeds. How is the loss of those valuable trees going to be recouped? Will visitors be charged by the hour to look at the spot where the trees were?
And one group of forward thinking citizens set up a recycling company called Me Nvironmental, which was gratefully received by anyone with any brain. Tons of recyclables were collected... But government support has been lacking so the company is closing down after a few months.
|Double River Falls - Adventure Tourism|
This year's dry season has been devastating to the hillside forests, as usual. But who cares! It's only bush, dred. Worthless. It have snakes and ting there. I shudder to think of the floods that will destroy and kill again in the rainy season to come. How many people died in last year's floods? Only a few? About as many as in the Boston tragedy, right? Doh study! The insurance companies will keep paying out year after year, right? If they don't, Trinis will just steups and carry on.
When heavy rain falls on forested hillside, much of the water stays on the leaves and evaporates into the air. The remaining water filters slowly through foliage, undergrowth, and root systems. Each tree then removes tens of thousands of gallons of water from the soil, storing it and releasing it back into the atmosphere as water vapour. When trees are removed from hillsides, the heavy raindrop impact removes topsoil and quickly sends sediment-heavy floodwater downhill, clogging rivers and drains and causing flooding.
Remember extreme rain from twenty years ago? The drains would rush with clear water, speeding down the St Anns and Santa Cruz and Arima hills. Now, it's a road full of yellow mud and silt. Too much water for any drain to hold, roaring into the valleys, taking the topsoil with it.
There are groups of people are fighting for the lives of our islands. They write, they beg, they film, they set up groups, they plant hundreds of trees, they go to schools and teach children about the importance of our national treasures. They guard the sacred places with body and soul. They keep the secret places, secret. Breed and release, plant seedlings, collect seeds. All of these people have faith and hope that one day, the destruction of our greatest treasure will stop. And then Trinbago, she will breathe a big sigh and ketch herself again. There are Trinis all over the world and we go back, all the time, like returning turtles. My own children only want to complete their education, and, like so many Trinis, return. Perhaps once you have lived away, you begin to appreciate what is special in Trinidad and Tobago. When we return, will there still be a Trinbago?
I have seen an ocelot in the wild, frozen in the morning mist before it sprang away. I have seen the flash of the morne bleu. I have climbed the falls and leaped shreiking into deep, crystal clear pools. I have watched breathlessly while a massive leatherback turtle lay her eggs and heaved her exhausted body back to the sea. I have seen some of the secret places and danced in the night on a shore where microscopic, phosphorescent creatures glittered in my footsteps and lit up the shoreline.
There is nothing to compare.
Follow these peeps, who are doing good things: (updated!)
Sustainable TT on Facebook
It's Up To MEnvironmental on Facebook
Papa Bois Conservation on Facebook
Caribbean Discovery- Eco Tours on Facebook
Saving Trinidad and Tobago's historic buildings, Facebook
Asa Wright Nature Centre on Facebook
4H Caribbean on Facebook
Caribbean Youth Environment Network
The Cropper Foundation
Caribbean Institute of Sustainability
Can you add any more? Let me know in Comments!