Pride in Pawi

When the Guardian Life Wildlife Fund(GLWF) was founded as an independent trust in 1992, its mandatewasto raise national consciousness about conservation and assist in the protection and preservation of any species of animal, bird, or fish - native to Trinidad & Tobago - in danger of becoming extinct.

Since thenGLWF has supported variousenvironmental organizations and projects.  More recently, the GLWF has focused its energy almost exclusively around Trinidad & Tobago’s critically endangered endemic bird, the Pawi (Pipilepipile).  The last estimate relied on (several years old) suggests there may be less than 250 Pawilefton the planet--mainly in the north east of Trinidad—and they still fall prey to hunting and habitat destruction.

The Pawi, which is on the IUCN’s list as one of the five most critically endangered cracids in the world, is attracting global attention from conservationists.As a leading environmental NGO in Trinidad& Tobago, GLWF made itsfirst time proposal to the UNDP/GEF/SGP in 2010 for funding to support Platform I of its “Pride in Pawi” campaign.

“Pride in Pawi” is envisioned as a comprehensive communication programme, implemented in three platforms,to educate nationals on the Pawi and encourage protection of this endangered bird.  As the first step, Platform I laid out a community-based educational outreach and training programmefocused in the communities where the Pawi is stillbelieved to exist—no conservation effort can possibly succeed without the participation and support of the immediate communities.The proposal was quickly approved by the UNDP and got underway in April 2010.

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The first challenge was the remoteness of the target communities such as Matelot, Grande Riviere, and Brasso Seco.  Much travelling to these remote areas was required to hold meetings with community members whose schedules also proved difficult to coordinate.  The Project Team soon learnt that “one size does not fit all” –not only was each community differentbut it was important tounderstand the differences. The takeaway: time must be investedat the outsettowards developing relationships and trust.

Nevertheless, several successful educational workshops were conducted in places as far as Matelot with no direct access by car.  Community members, recruited from these workshops and other meetings as potential “Pawi Guardians”, were trained in first aid and Pawi data collection with the help of the UWIPawi Study Group, the Forestry Divisionand eco-tourism experts.  So far, these community members have spent over 177 man hours patrolling and collecting data in the forests of the eastern part of the northern range.  Sightings have been recorded and new information is emerging.The UWI Pawi Study Group is currently analysing thisdata and adding to the scientific knowledge which will facilitate efforts behind the recovery of the Pawi.

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