Recently the Executive and Island councils discussed the goat situation on Saba. (Read this here)
In their first technical meeting after the March elections they concluded that “the goats are of a tremendous nuisance to the community, and at times they create dangerous situations, i.e., with falling rocks as well as hazards to traffic. The Executive Council presented a draft plan, and the Island Council also expressed their ideas. The plan aims to decrease the goat population. It will be a multi-faceted approach where the goat owners again are asked to maintain their herds better; hunters will shoot more goats and traps will be placed in the built-up areas, to eliminate shooting in the villages.” This plan of action went into effect this week.
Saba is not the only place in the world where the goat population is endangering the future of the environment. In Morocco, peasants find herds of goats that learned to climb into trees to find food that was no longer available from the land.
Not so long later, the goats had to move to the next source of food.
A few years ago, the Government proposed similar plans and the The Hague subsidized this. The effectiveness can now be seen on the streets in The Bottom and along the roads.
As long as the Government does not start a real effective action plan, the only hope for Saba’s nature is that the residents do not fence their gardens efficiently, so that local goats can find enough food in our gardens. Hopefully this will prevent them from developing skills like their Moroccan brothers and sisters so that they will not have to ruin our rain forest to survive.
Maybe we should plant extra vegetables to assist the goats who have difficult times during the coming months with little rain.
Some people came up with the suggestion to promote Saba as a hunters paradise, where tourist would be allowed to shoot goats at a price. This would bring in money for the Saba Conservation Foundation in stead of tax money being spend to resolve the pest otherwise. The whole tourist sector would benefit.
Legally, it seems that no one is responsible for the free roaming animals. The law says that, if the original owner of the animal that has escaped from his control does not take immediate action to fence it in again, he looses ownership. So the free roaming goats have no owners so no one is responsible for the damage that they cause.