Environmentalist Marc de Verteuil is calling on hunters to self-regulate themselves as he says the Government is not doing what is necessary to protect wildlife during the hunting season.
De Verteuil's comments came following a Facebook post by the El Socorro Centre for Wildlife Conservation showing a dead ocelot, allegedly killed by hunters in an attempt to increase the agouti population. The ocelot is a protected species.
In an interview yesterday, De Verteuil told the T&T Guardian there was an absence of management over the hunting season. The hunting season opened on October 1 and closes at the end of February 2017.
"Hunting season has started again in T&T. There is an absence of management and enforcement so hunters must self-regulate until the Government can get its act together and regulate the sport," he said.
"The fact some feel the need to cull ocelots indicates that they have noticed a decline in the (agouti) species. Who is to blame, man or ocelot?
"There are pictures on social media of some showing their kill of multiple agoutis in one night, sometime four or five or more. This adds to year-round poaching, habitat loss and bush fires. How can that be sustainable?" he asked.
Quoting from the University of the West Indies Life Sciences Online Guide to Animals of T&T, De Verteuil said: "Ocelots' prey can include agoutis but according to information from UWI their main prey is small rodents."
He said the study showed that ocelots fed on rodents that were less than three per cent of its own body weight.
"An ocelot weighs a maximum of 40 pounds according to the same source, so that means rodents of a maximum of 1.2 pounds, which would be a very small agouti indeed," he added.
Stating that the agouti should be left for the ocelots, De Verteuil said: "Nobody in T&T depends on hunting for survival. There is not a single person who will starve without agouti on the table. Don't be greedy, leave the agouti for the ocelot."
"The solution for having more agoutis is not the killing of ocelot but the protection of habitat and a managed, enforced hunt – failing that maybe we should consider the banning of hunting again, but that will fail too because there is nobody to enforce a ban."