Hidden Heroes: A life dedicated to saving animals

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 
call 366-4369

Reporter: Carisa Lee