The international press and animal activists have targeted Barbados as a country where migrating wildfowl are slaughtered indiscriminately – a country without laws, a country where the government does not consider the natural environment worth preserving. These charges are made directly and indirectly in two Telegraph UK articles: Barbados Wildfowlers Attacked Over ‘Slaughter’ Of Birds Migrating From US and Killing Fields Of Barbados.
In our opinion, these charges of indiscriminate slaughter of birds, an uncaring government and a country without laws – are valid.
Media’s Curious Omissions – Proposed National Park, Conservation Efforts At Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary
What is extremely curious about the articles is that despite all the “research” done by writers Paul Eccleston and Micael Shemilt, nowhere are the proposed National Park or the conservation efforts at the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary mentioned. Even the Graeme Hall swamp itself, the largest inland body of water and the last large mangrove swamp on the island, is not mentioned.
This makes me wonder how these articles came to be written. How did the migratory bird shootings come to the attention of the writers? Who did they interview? What Bajan could possibly have provided information and not told the writers about the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary – the largest and last mangrove watershed in Barbados and a famous and well-managed refuge for migratory birds? Even a cursory Google search of “birds, barbados” brings up links to the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary in the first five hits!
And yet, not one word about the Nature Sanctuary in an article about migratory birds in Barbados.
The Telegraph article “Killing Fields Of Barbados“ also suggests that the swamps could become tourist attractions if only hides and walkways could be built!
“The swamps could however be adapted as tourist attractions as bird watching holidays have become big business both in the UK and in the US. If hides and covered walkways were erected and knowledgeable guides provided, visiting Barbados to view the autumn influx of migrating waders could become a feature of the islands tourist promotions.”
I guess that no one told the authors that the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary has had beautiful nature pathways and hides for over a decade and that the philanthropist owner has just spent over a hundred thousand dollars to upgrade and expand the walkways!
But even more curious, this total omission of the Nature Sanctuary is not only found in the international press, it is found in the Barbados media…
It is interesting that an article by The Nation News: Watson: Bird Hunting A Concern, is quoted as a reference in the Telegraph UK articles – but the Nation News article again never mentions either the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, the Graeme Hall mangrove swamp or the efforts for a National Park.
Any media-savvy Bajan has to wonder how a Barbados-based journalist like Julie Wilson of the Nation News could possibly do an article on migratory bird shooting in Barbados without mentioning the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary and the National Park proposal.
Answer: The Nation News has a long history of deceit, censorship and omissions when writing about the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary and National Park proposal…
Why don’t any of the UK or Barbados bird-shooting articles mention the largest swamp on the island, the fact that no shooting takes place and that endangered species are preserved? That the multi-million dollar nature sanctuary is a world class tourist destination with new walkways and a variety of species that cannot be seen anywhere else on the island?
How is that possible?
The Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary is renowned not only as a tourist attraction but also for rescuing injured birds and nursing them back to health. Its captive breeding programme has pulled one species of parrot back from the brink of extinction. School children visit the sanctuary on a regular basis and on any day you can see Bajans as well as tourists enjoying the peace and wildlife at the last large mangrove swamp on Barbados. All this is known by every Bajan… and yet not one word of the sanctuary or the National Park movement appears in any of the articles…
Even more curious is the race-based political message that is conveyed in the Telegraph articles…
According To The Telegraph, White Men Support The Swamps So They Can Kill Birds !
And here is where any media watcher in Barbados must take pause and start asking questions about the source of these articles – about the agendas of these articles, how much “research” was actually conducted by the writers and the omission of relevant information that any Bajan would be aware of.
Once again, we agree that the slaughter must stop, that the government doesn’t care about the environment and that our country lacks the necessary laws to achieve what needs to be done.
WE SMELL AN AGENDA IN THE ARTICLES…
According to the articles, the reason for this continuing slaughter is…
a/ Whites are the shooters.
b/ Whites have so much political power that the government is powerless to stop the shooting.
c/ Whites maintain the swamps to facilitate the shooting.
d/ If the swamps were not maintained, the bird population wouldn’t be impacted all that much. (!)
Consider these statements from the Telegraph…
“The shooters consist of the (mostly white) plantocracy and wealthy businessmen of Barbados, a small but powerful minority with considerable economic and political influence.”
“The swamps are often expensive to maintain and are either the result of a damned stream or are topped up from a well. To justify their sport, swamp shooters, or wildfowlers as they call themselves, claim that the swamps provide a haven for wildlife during eight months of the year which would be significantly reduced were they to close. There is some validity to this claim, but nothing like enough to off-set the wholesale slaughter during the other four months.”
“There is no doubt that the indiscriminate slaughter of protected migrating birds is now a global issue with particular attention focusing on islands like Cyprus and Malta. It may surprise some to find Barbados in a similar category. What is more, this is not a case of hungry peasants killing for food but an out-dated sport engaged in by a wealthy and sophisticated minority. It is to be hoped that increasing external concern and pressure will persuade them to change their ways.”
Certain Government Officials Want To Personally Profit From Development Of Our Last South Coast Natural Area
All of this comes to light as we see the Government of Barbados using all its resources to discredit those who want to save the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary from development, and to establish a National Park on the south coast.
Prime Minister Owen Arthur and his gang would rather sell the last piece of undeveloped natural land in the south, build condos and line their own pockets. According to Matthew Kerins, the developer of the proposed and controversial Caribbean Splash Waterpark in the Graeme Hall watershed, the Prime Minister gave his blessing to developing the National Park area during a private meeting. Further, Mr. Kerins claims (AND WE BELIEVE HIM) that he spent some 2 million US dollars on “consulting fees” that guaranteed him the right to build his waterpark in Graeme Hall.
We agree that the slaughter of migratory birds must stop. We agree that the Government of Barbados has exhibited a callous neglect of the environment. We agree that Barbados is a country of no laws and little enforcement of the laws that we have.
All of these things must change.
But we also see in these “news” articles an agenda that is most disturbing, an incomplete and poorly researched journalistic effort that has made the Telegraph UK a pawn in the delivery of a political message in an unethical campaign that is contrary to the interests of Barbados citizens and our children’s future.
We Call Upon The Government Of Barbados To Immediately…
1/ Ban all wildlife shooting in Barbados. Period.
2/ Declare a National Park at Graeme Hall and ban all development in the Graeme Hall watershed forever.
3/ Enact and enforce laws to protect the environment.
4/ Enact and enforce conflict of interest and integrity legislation that will prevent elected and appointed public officials from profiting as a result of their positions of authority and influence.
Prime Minister Owen Arthur and his cohorts have had 13 years of majority government to pass any legislation they wished.
They could pass the above legislation tomorrow if they wanted to.
Co-Written by BFP’s Marcus and Cliverton – who, for the record – because it matters in Barbados – are nowhere near white. 😉
Also see Ian Bourne’s article on this subject at Bajan Reporter