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Investigating Theft Of Iguanas

AS Deputy Prime Minister “Brave” Davis said in a press statement yesterday, it is important that the mysterious appearance of 13 Bahamian iguanas — one dead— discovered in luggage at Heathrow Airport, London, should be thoroughly investigated.

Can anyone imagine two Romanian women landing on Columbus’ island of San Salvador, scooping up 13 frightened iguanas, stuffing them in socks, then into a suitcase and getting as far as London on their way to deliver them to an unknown accomplice in Dusseldorf, Germany, without some kind of local assistance? No, we can’t, nor can Mr Davis.

“This story is troubling in many ways,” said Mr Davis. “These animals are an endangered species, living in isolation from regular human contact. They run away from intruders. To secure 13 animals and to remove them from San Salvador in secrecy would seem to be a daunting task.”

Quite rightly, Mr Davis was concerned that these foreign ladies “probably had assistance from someone or others resident on San Salvador as well as in Nassau before boarding the flight to London”.

It is obvious that there is a local racket going on — if it’s not drugs, it’s our endangered species.

The question is what else and how many more of our rare species are being smuggled out? Were these the first iguanas to leave our shores, or were there others that unfortunately missed detection?

We are certain that all concerned Bahamians, in the words of Mr Davis, are “anxious that this criminal act is fully investigated and that all parties involved in this despicable attack on our natural heritage are dealt with by the law in all relevant jurisdictions. We must all play our part in protecting our natural heritage.”

Not only should any Bahamian who aided and abetted in this despicable act, all along the transit chain, be held accountable, but so should the two Romanian couriers, and whoever was to receive them at their final destination.

“I have been in contact with our security organisations and other agencies of the Government, to ensure that The Bahamas is intimately involved in finding a resolution to this theft and, hopefully, to arrange the safe return of the still living iguanas to their habitat in San Salvador,” said Mr Davis.

He called on “citizens everywhere to be mindful that there will always be those who try to use our islands for trafficking of drugs, people and our natural treasures to other jurisdictions. We must all be vigilant and play our individual parts to the fullest to protect our Bahamas from criminals of all sorts.”

“With only a few of these creatures native to the Bahamas in existence, the San Salvador rock iguana is considered extremely rare and is near extinction. All rock iguanas in the Bahamas are protected by the Wild Animals Protection Act,” The Tribune reported in “The Big T” over the weekend.

With all the publicity that this ugly escapade has attracted in Europe these are certainly 13 of the world’s best known iguanas. They will probably be delighted to return to the warmth of their own sandy shores.

However, Bahamians should take the protection of their heritage seriously. We recall that as a child — many, many moons ago — the delight we took in gathering the most beautiful shells from our beaches.

These precious pieces were in such abundant supply that no one ever thought that they could disappear — we believed that shells were washed ashore with every incoming tide. And then, over time they were no longer there. The only time that we see anything resembling these shells is in special shops in other lands.

Every summer we watched as American tourists walked our beaches, collecting the shells. We remember one gentleman in particular.

Every summer barefooted with rolled up trousers on Montagu Beach, he collected the shells for sale in the US. We watched him grow old on this beach and eventually take Bible in hand and establish a small church here.

He was not the only one. The desecration was happening before our very eyes, but no one realised what it meant for future generations until it was too late.

The only one who seemed to notice enough to take it seriously and warn Bahamians through these columns that they should protect their possessions was the second editor of The Tribune. He predicted that soon there would be a generation of Bahamians who would never understand the treasures they had lost — thanks to an earlier generation that did not protect what nature had bestowed upon them.

The busy pen was that of the late Sir Etienne Dupuch —nicknamed by many as the “Voice of Doom” – who daily through these columns told Bahamians truths that they did not want to hear. It is now up to this generation to become aware and protect what is left of our heritage for future generations.

Misery Likes Company

BUSINESSMAN Rupert Roberts is certainly getting the message out to Bahamians of the dangers of VAT.

At each tellers station in his foodstore chain — certainly the one at Winton — as one waits for change and the food stamps, the VAT message cannot be missed.

Headed: Misery likes company – the cartoon shows four alarmed men – three in the water, with sharks circling – one on the wooden pier with a large rubber tube around his middle to keep him afloat, deciding whether to take the plunge and join his frightened friends.

One bewildered citizen represents St Lucia, the other St Kitts, and with arms held high obviously desperate for help as sharks circle is Barbados. Still on shore is a bewildered Bahamas shaking in his bare feet – wondering whether he too should join the misery of his fellows.

If he know what’s good for him, he’ll turn tail and run back to the safety of Bay Street, and try to figure out another way to raise taxes to keep a spendthrift government afloat.

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