“Trinidad and Tobago,” I patiently repeated for the second time.
“What?” She frustratingly retorted.
The international illegal wildlife trade is big business. It is estimated to be the third largest cross-border revenue earner for organised crime. T&T is no stranger to this trade. The criminal gangs that transport guns, drugs and the victims of human trafficking, also sneak smuggled wildlife across porous borders. Contraband of any sort is the lifeblood of these crime syndicates.
Wildlife smuggling is not just a crime against nature but also a national security issue. Wildlife trafficking helps pay for the guns and drugs that wreck lives in communities across T&T. Illegal ownership of exotic, wildlife comes at a price to society. It must be treated with the utmost seriousness.
Last week’s news that, during a hunting moratorium, a Trinidadian magistrate had let the wildlife offenders off the hook raised eyebrows among local conservationists and the international press. The Associated Press published an article titled “Trinidad pair cleared of caging protected animals.”