|Bush Bush a haven for wildlife
By VERDEL BISHOP Saturday, September 8 2007
MOST of us harried and hustled Trinis need a break once in a while to reconnect with nature. Not so? The long over due need for rest and relaxation sometimes means a very long vacation somewhere far away from the crazy rush of traffic, maddening work schedules and people, people, people.
As with most things, eco-tourism is evolving and for this reason media practitioners were lucky enough to get the opportunity of a much needed nature connection and unique “bush experience” on August 29, with a tour organised by the Ministry of Tourism which focussed on the Nariva Swamp and the sandy forested Bush Bush Island. The tour’s aim was to foster domestic awareness of the benefits of eco tourism and the public’s knowledge and appreciation of sites and attractions within our twin island Republic.
Ecological Tourism or Eco tourism according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO) can be defined as: all forms of tourism in which the main motivation is the observation and appreciation of nature, that contribute to the conservation of and that generate minimal impacts on the natural environment and cultural heritage.
We began our eco exploration by hopping a boat at the mouth of the Nariva Swamp for a ten minute boat ride to Bush Bush territory. Nariva is an internationally protected wetland with outstanding wildlife diversity, where we rowed alongside mangrove edges of the brackish fresh water swamp. Mammals and more than 200 species of birds were nowhere to be seen since they usually make their appearance very early in the morning or late in the evening. This meant that we had to depend on Bush Bush territory to satisfy our expectations of seeing the Red Howler Monkey and Capuchin Monkey, two highly endangered species which make Bush Bush sanctuary their natural habitat. Bush Bush is a very special area and is known as the most productive eco site in the Caribbean. It is a prohibited area with endangered fern and fauna and is the most reliable place on the entire island to find monkeys. The territory is almost surrounded by the Nariva Swamp. It encompasses hard-wood forest and rich, varied flora and fauna. Bush Bush is the habitat of 58 species of mammal, 37 species of reptile and 171 species of birds and unfortunately, it is also home to 92 species of mosquito. Some of the more interesting animals that can be seen include caimans, ocelots, porcupines, red howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, parrots, anacondas and the endangered manatee. Under the guidance of Stephen Broadbridge, Managing Director of Caribbean Discovery Tours, reporters hiked through the dense, humid forest hoping to see the varied species of animals that make their habitat right here in TT. After walking the forested trails for less than half an hour, two capuchin monkeys were spotted relaxing on high branches showing off in their territory. As we ventured deeper through the rain forest canopy, the throaty howl of Monkeys saturated the forest as many of us fought to keep abreast of the eerie sounds. Deeper into the sanctuary, we saw some interesting trees and we stood at the roots of the largest sand box tree in TT which stands at approximately 80 feet according to our tour guide. However, throughout the forest, unique trees and plants are still being discovered.
Our foot safari into the Bush Bush Reserve ended without siting many of the animals that make their home there, because of time constraints.
Finally we visited Kernahan Village, a sleepy area where the villagers adapt to a self-sufficient lifestyle and farming is very prominent. It is said many of the villagers at Kernahan Village came from places such as Barrackpore, Debe and Penal to do agricultural work. The area is known for agricultural products with watermelon being the main crop.