THE Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment through its environmental regulatory body the Environmental Protection Agency, has received several reports of illegally hunted and traded wildlife in Guyana.
This is undertaken by persons in direct contravention of the Wildlife Management and Conservation Regulations, 2013.
This legislative instrument allows for regulating the harvesting of wildlife for various purposes including bushmeat, scientific research, etc. Anyone who contravenes the tenets of this Legal Instrument will be guilty of an offense and liable to receiving penalties ranging from $30,000 to $750,000 along with prison time.
The First Schedule of the Regulation lists ALL protected species in Guyana. At this juncture, the ministry, in a statement to the media yesterday, said it would like to reiterate that all species of wildcats including jaguar and puma are protected, which means that their collection, holding in captivity, hunting, or otherwise molesting is prohibited. This extends to the owning and selling of cat body parts or products thereof.
In light of the foregoing, the ministry has embarked on a vigorous programme to enforce the regulation and curb the illegal hunting and trapping of wildlife. To this end, it established a National Committee to oversee the management and conservation of wildlife in Guyana.
This committee known as the Wildlife Management Steering Committee is headed by Major General (ret’d) Joe Singh and represents the interest of all relevant public sector institutions and their stakeholders. It acts in an advisory capacity to provide general oversight and guidance in the development of strategies and programmes for wildlife management and conservation in Guyana as per the Wildlife Management and Conservation Regulations 2013. Upon its finalisation, the Committee will also be guided by the Wildlife Import and Export Bill 2013 which seeks to better regulate the trading of wildlife.
In executing its mandate, the Committee is liaising with various stakeholders both local and international including Panthera and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. This collaboration has realised the development of a 12-month project to build the foundation for monitoring and regulating wildlife harvest in the South-Guyana Region. On completion, this project will be rolled out on a National level.
Meanwhile, a communication strategy that the Committee developed will be implemented to inform stakeholders and the general public on key issues related to wildlife management and conservation in Guyana.