The Open School of Tropical Animal
Science and Production
12/6/2023 12:16:47 PM
ESTABLISHMENT OF CAPTIVE BREEDING CENTRES/ ZOOS/
THE EMPOWERING FARMERS TO PRODUCE WILDLIFE
The establishment of captive breeding centres where young adult male and female animals will be housed, is the recommendation of choice , for several reasons. This was recommended by Hislop (1989), eleven years ago!!! Firstly, this would lend itself to intensive production. Secondly the centres will provide protection and a healthy environment for reproduction. "Predictable reproduction models will allow correct charting and knowledge of the animal's cycle."
Because the centres could be housed at stations that are already established and associated with the conservation, protection and reproduction of wildlife, such as the Emperor Valley Zoo and the OTF-APL [ in Trinidad and Tobago], trained staff could be available to address medical and behavioural concerns. This is the role of conservation that zoos could take. These centres will also act as relief centres for orphaned and traumatised animals, so rehabilitation and restoration of the animals can be handled in a proper manner with security measures already in existence. This type of facility will ensure that the threat of human compromise is avoided through the existing security measures at the Zoo.
Additionally private persons and farmers could be encouraged to produce and manage the wildlife commercially, thereby decreasing the dependence on the wild. Some farmers are already doing so. The establishment of the first captive breeding centre could be constructed under the umbrella of The OTF-APL and a Zoo. This could become the blueprint for the other centres throughout the country where State institutions exist. This will provide the animals with professional health care by trained staff and security from attack by hunters through the security mechanisms, already established at the Zoo.
Captive breed stock will prevent the possible extinction of the indigenous animal wildlife species. In Trinidad and Tobago these animals include the Agouti (Dasyprocta leporina), Lappe (Agouti paca), Cocrico (Ortatis ruficauda) and the Deer (Mazama americana). But in Guyana on the South American mainland these animals are plentiful. In the other islands of the Caribbean other useful species include the Mountain chicken (Leptodactylus fallax) in Dominica; the Jamaican Rock Iguana (Cyclura collie) and the Bahamian and Jamaican Hutia (Geocapromys brownii) in Jamaica. These latter two are on the world list of endangered species.
Wildlife farming could also ensure that there will be a gene pool in the wild for future work in the improvement of the captive reared wildlife stock. It was concluded that, wildlife farming had a multi-purpose role to play in Trinidad and Tobago and should be encouraged.
The above recommendations are in agreement with the general recommendations of Cross (2001). The above recommendations, however, gives some focus for the actions required as follows:
Education and Awareness- immediate action to develop modules on Zoos and Wildlife in the Primary and Secondary School Curriculum, and University Level Wildlife and Environmental Education strongly linked to Agriculture and Industry;
Information and Research- the immediate action being suggested here is Neo-tropical wildlife biology and Production oriented research strongly linked to ex-situ conservation initiatives.
Cross (2001) further identified the responsibilities of the primary agencies managing and conserving biodiversity in Trinidad and Tobago. What is most interesting is that only the Emperor Valley Zoo ahs the responsibility for ex situ animal wildlife conservation. This is an excellent little Zoo by world standards, but what is immediately required to sustain this is to ensure that the staff therein are well trained in Neo-tropical Wildlife, Production and Management. At present, no-one there has had any formal training in this area. All the training is based on experiences on the job and short term training at other zoos. The staff there is excellent and measures are needed to be put in place for their empowerment and professional development to ensure the sustainability of this Zoo.
Dr. Gary W. Garcia, Ph.D.,
Department of Food Production, Faculty of Science and Agriculture,
The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine.