Persaud wants Wildlife Bill to receive urgent attention in 11th Parliament

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By Radha Motielall

Minister Persaud addressing stakeholders at the forum

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Stakeholders in Guyana’s wildlife sector gathered at the conference centre at Liliendaal to celebrate world wildlife day today, March 03.

The forum presented the opportunity for them to review the practice in the sector and to look at ways and means through which they can make it more sustainable.

World Wildlife Day is being celebrated under the theme “wildlife crime – lets end it now”, and Minister of Guyana Natural Resources, Robert Persaud said he is pleased with this theme, not because Guyana has an out of control situation, but because it can lift awareness to prevent such crimes from becoming prevalent in the country.

He recalled that there was a period when Guyana’s track record in wildlife conservation and management was checkered and at one point [up to 1999], Guyana was prevented from trading.

Persaud said the country had to put things in order, which was eventually done. However, he cautioned against a recurrence and stressed that he does not want Guyana to be branded as callous, as he opined that no stakeholder should want this either.

It was noted that there are still some who believe that Guyana’s resources are there to be plundered; however the message of the importance of sustainable management is finally getting across and hopefully will gather momentum with events like these, coupled with the efforts of the state agencies tasked with regulating the wildlife industry.

In this regard, the Natural Resources Minister expressed hope that the Wildlife Import and Export Bill will receive urgent attention in the 11th Parliament.

He said he was disappointed that the Bill was not enacted during the 10th Parliament, but noted that in the interim, there are existing regulations within agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure sustainable management of the country’s wildlife resources.

But apart from those regulations, the Minister believes that what is really required is a buy-in from all stakeholders and nationwide support to end the many illegal activities which still obtains today.

Persaud said “sometimes we wait after the fact and then take action…and it is always better that we be preemptive”.

He advised that much more focus can be placed on what needs to be done in order to prevent the already established problems, challenges and difficulties we see elsewhere, from becoming prevalent in society.

On December 20, 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided to proclaim March 03, the day of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, as World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora.

In his message to mark this day, the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban-Ki-Moon is urging all consumers, suppliers and governments to treat crimes against wildlife as a threat to our sustainable future.