Every year approximately 30,000 species of animals are being driven to extinction, according to a Harvard University study.
That’s why one Trinidad and Tobago national decided to take it upon himself and start a centre for wildlife conservation in T&T, even though when he was younger his view of animals was the opposite.
“My focus shifted from killing and harming things to saving them and sharing the natural beauty we have here in T&T,” Ricardo Meade said in an interview with Guardian Media.
The non-governmental organisation is called The El Socorro Centre for Wildlife Conservation and is located in Freeport.
It was founded 14 years ago and Meade said it was always a dream of his to conserve animals.
“When people were on the beach playing cricket I would be below the waves seeing the amazing flora and fauna,” Meade said.
The organisation is not government-funded and everything the centre owns comes through donation.
“Everything comes out the hearts and regular pocket of the public,” Meade said.
Even the property where the centre is currently located is owned by a volunteer. Nevertheless, Meade believes this country needs animal conservation and that is why he continues the work.
“Imagine waking a day and you cannot see an agouti, you could never see a hummingbird, you hardly see butterflies anymore,” Meade said. Meade, an aquatic designer by profession, spend several hours of his day at the centre but he does not do it alone.
“We are an all-volunteer organisation, no one is paid,” Meade said. He said different volunteers full different roles however he is thankful for everyone’s contribution.
“I thank them for their time, they don’t get money for gas or to go out of their way to a rescue, I thank them for helping the organisation grow,” Meade said.
The El Socorro Centre for Wildlife Conservation also offers several workshops and visits schools through its educational drive.
“So far we have reached 435,000 Trinidadians”,” Meade said. Sometimes the job can be difficult.
“Sometimes we’ve gone for a day and a half without sleep when we have had oil wild birds come in,” Meade said. And sometimes it gets emotional.
“Part of the passion is not just the zeal to go but when things happen it brings you down. We’ve gone to rescues and the animals were already killed or died of natural causes,” Meade said.
However, not everyone is receptive to Meade’s mission.
He told us that many people question why he continues.
“It is for our country and our benefit,” Meade said.
He was offered a job in another country but he declined because he wanted to make sure that when he decides to step aside, our wildlife is in good hands.
Contact the El Socorro Centre
for Wildlife Conservation email [email protected] or
Reporter: Carisa Lee