Editor, A number of species of wildlife in Union Island are on the protected list. Some are endangered and a cadre of workers have been deployed to ensure their safety and future.
The sea turtle is on the protected list and must not be hunted, nor its eggs removed from its nest. It is believed that a young man who drowned some time ago had illegally caught one turtle and was trying to catch another when he met his demise.
It is said that Aunt Janie used to watch for the pitching of the stars to determine which beach to raid for turtle eggs. She in her lifetime might have gathered hundreds of eggs if not thousands. She was a centenarian and some have attributed her longevity to turtle eggs.
It was determined that Turtle watching can bring more benefits to the island, hence the need for protection.
The parrot fish, and doctor fish play a role in maintaining our coral reefs so they are on the protected list. Additionally, their beauty is valuable for scuba divers who visit our shores to see them. Traditionally these fishes were the preferred species to put in the ochro that goes with the local African delicacy called “Wangoo.” Thus, they are worth more to us alive than dead.
Sea urchins locally called sea eggs are reputed to be an aphrodisiac and were sought after. But the abundant sea moss now being cultivated and some growing wild serves the same purpose.
The Union Island gecko, is unique to us and its beauty surpasses many species of lizards. It is worth protecting. Other reptiles like the small blind snake that lives in the sand, iguana, and local snakes are also protected. Snakes eat rats which may spread leptospirosis and this is good. The manicou has seasons when they can be hunted.
With all these animals on the protected list, some are wondering why people are not put on the protected list also? Their efforts to survive are being thwarted by their crops being eaten by sheep, goats, cows, and pigs. Iguanas too have joined the bandwagon of crop destroyers, eating flowers, fruits and green crops. Manicou eat the poultry, and birds. Land turtles have been causing much destruction. And their population needs to be controlled.
Anthony G. Stewart, PhD