Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Don't buy protected animals for Christmas gifts -NEPA

Published:Saturday | December 24, 2016 | 12:00 AM
The crocodile is protected by law under the Wild Life Protection Act.

Jamaicans preparing to purchase pets as gifts for Christmas are being cautioned against buying animals that are protected species.

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is reminding Jamaicans that the yellow-billed parrot, the crested quail dove, the Jamaican parakeet, the American crocodile, and the Jamaican boa (yellow snake) are all protected under the Wild Life Protection Act (WLPA).

Deleen Powell, public relations officer at NEPA, said it is an offence under the WLPA to possess, hunt, kill, capture or wilfully molest any protected animal.

She warned that persons found guilty of the offence could be charged a maximum fine of $100,000 or face 12 months' imprisonment, or both, depending on the ruling of the judge.

In a Gleaner interview, Powell said persons often acquire pets as gifts at this time of the year and many end up spending money on protected parrots.

"It happens that much more at this time of the year when persons are looking to buy cheap gifts, so there might be persons who catch the birds in their area and actually have them for sale. We have got reports of persons who see the birds for sale at the side of the road," Powell said.

Emphasising that a breach of the WLPA is a serious offence, Powell said: "These birds are part of our cultural heritage, many of them are endemic to Jamaica, and so, if we do not take care of them and protect them, it means that if they disappear here, they disappear off the face of the earth."

The NEPA spokesperson pointed out that the agency has carried out public-education programmes through community meetings and interventions to sensitise the public about Jamaica's protected animals.