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Smuggled donkey, horse create stir in Icacos
RADHICA DE SILVA
Donkeys have been a rare sight in Trinidad and Tobago over the past decade, but thanks to Venezuelan smugglers the animals have now reappeared in the south-western peninsula.
On Monday around dusk, a grey donkey and a horse believed to have been smuggled in from the South American mainland, arrived in Icacos much to the delight of residents.
The animals were seen walking side by side along the Southern Main Road.
Residents expressed pleasure at seeing the donkey since the last one to be seen in San Souci died several years ago.
A resident from Icacos told the T&T Guardian the smuggled animals are usually cows, sheep, and goats. The cows are usually the high bred Zebus and Holstein.
"It was in March that we first noticed a surplus of stray animals in Icacos. The animals are brought in illegally and they sit in front of people's homes, on the roads. Sometimes we have to wait until they get up so we can get into our garages. We had an accident a few months ago where a car ran off the road trying to avoid a stray animal," the resident said.
Unwilling to give their identities because of possible repercussions from the smugglers, the residents called on the Ministry of Agriculture to reopen the pound at the Cedros Breeding Unit so the stray animals can be housed.
"Most times when the animals show up on evenings, the butcher trucks come in by morning and the animals disappear. We are hoping that the donkey stays," a resident added.
A group of smuggled cows also flooded the village last week.
Since the closure of the Cedros Breeding Unit there is no place to impound the animals, so the police are turning a blind eye because there is no place to put the cows, a resident said.
Councillor for Cedros Shankar Teelucksingh said the matter has been brought to the attention of the police during a recent police Town Meeting.
"Residents raised the concerns of illegal animals coming in. At present they are seeing cattle, sheep, horse and now a donkey. They are concerned about the health and safety issues which are not being addressed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of National Security,” Teelucksingh said.
Contacted for comment on the issue, Minister of Agriculture Clarence Rambharat said the issue has been brought to the attention of the Chief Veterinary Officer Animal Production and the Health Division. Rambharat, however, denied that the Breeding Unit was closed.
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