What on earth is the Government thinking?Friday, September 13, 2013
Having helped, in a small way, with the Jamaican iguana recovery effort back in the mid 1990s, I still remember vividly my first and only wild encounter. I am horrified at the news of negotiations between Chinese investors and the Government of Jamaica with respect to developments in the Hellshire Hills and Portland Bight Protected Area.
It was just months after the iguanas' sensational rediscovery in Hellshire by the remarkable Mr Duffus that I spent hours sitting in the searing heat of the Hellshire sun in hope of a glimpse of one of the remaining animals. I got that glimpse and the memory will remain with me forever.
Since that day, the iguana recovery numbers have increased from single figures to more stable numbers. This has been a monumental task. Fighting against the odds with self-sacrifice, passion and bravery as well as the support of a small number of truly remarkable people, we are still lucky to have Jamaican iguanas now.
What on earth, then, is the Government thinking? To build a huge international port within the Portland Bight Protected Area? If so, what does protected mean then?
Is it not enough to allow the gradual erosion of Cockpit Country, the country's most biodiverse hotspot. Hellshire, too, must be ruined?
The consequences for Jamaican biodiversity, and iguanas specifically, of such a 'development' are unthinkable and unquestionably disastrous. That such a plan should even reach the negotiating table for consideration is shameful.
Mr Pickersgill, stand up and be a man, do what you are paid to do, fight for the environment, and don't let money, greed, ignorance, and politics force your hand to do the wrong thing.
People of Jamaica don't take this lying down. Fight for your unique natural heritage, protect it and cherish it. Once it is gone you will never get it back.
Herpetologist and Conservationist