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Trinidad planning minister promises increased fines for animal cruelty

By Jada Loutoo

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Caiman slaughtered and left hanging

(NEWSDAY) — Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis, who has responsibility for the environment, is promising increased penalties for animal cruelty.

She made the promise to give immediate attention to increasing penalties for such acts after she viewed with horror and concern a recent photograph of a slaughtered caiman hanging from a tree.

The photograph was shared on environmental NGO Papa Bois Conservation’s Facebook page and drew condemnation from the public, who described the act as “disgusting.”

A statement from the ministry said the minister felt that it was “especially disconcerting that this dastardly act has occurred out of the hunting season and even if it were the hunting season, this was not a humane hunting practice.”

Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis * Photo: Sureash Cholai

The statement said Robinoson-Regis has engaged the necessary authorities asking for a full investigation and fully supports 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.

The statement said on April 26, last year, Government approved the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) for TT.

The revised NBSAP provides an update on the status of biodiversity in TT, while 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.

“Acts such as this definitely serve to undermine the value and importance of all facets of our fragile biodiversity to our lives in TT,” the statement said.

It added that Robinson-Regis hopes that the publication of the cowardly and heinous act (referring to the slaughtered caiman) “ will serve as a moment of resurrection in all our citizens with respect to concern for our environment and will foster citizen participation and reporting of this and similar acts so that these perpetrators and any others who commit such offences can be brought to justice.”

She also called on all hunting groups, NGOs, communities to condemn such behavior and dissuade members of the public from acting in this manner.

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