Re­spect for “Coco”!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Toni Ni­cholas

Alo­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist is call­ing on the na­tion to pay homage to Gabriel “Coco” Charles by plac­ing greater em­pha­sis on en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion here.

“That name must not be lost in the an­nals of our con­science,” says Don­ald An­thony a Con­ser­va­tion Bi­ol­o­gist. “He was a great man and apart from cre­at­ing an aware­ness of some of our en­demic species like the Ama­zona Ver­si­color - our na­tional bird - he also helped save it from to­tal ex­tinc­tion,” An­thony tells the STAR.

He also re­calls that Charles sin­gle­hand­edly spear­headed the pre­ven­tion of a plan to have a high­way pass through the cen­tre of the rain­for­est. “Ev­ery time he passed through the Barre D’ Lisle, he would say ‘Don­ald, feel the air ... the for­est in­flu­ence,’ ” An­thony says.

“It would lit­er­ally kill him if he was alive to­day, to see what we are do­ing to the en­vi­ron­ment, the for­est, the land, the rivers, the beaches,” he adds.

“It makes no sense nam­ing a place af­ter a man, when the ethics of the con­ser­va­tion mes­sage that this man embodied are not up­held,” says An­thony. He be­lieves that as the na­tion cel­e­brates 36 years of in­de­pen­dence, it is time to re­flect on the en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion caused by man to this coun­try and ex­am­ine ways to re­verse the trend, be­fore it is too late.

“For me this is how we can show our love and re­spect for a man who worked so hard for this coun­try. He was savvy, he was bold, he was a con­querer and truly be­lieved in what he did,” An­thony main­tains.

On Au­gust 31,1993 Gabriel “Coco” Charles’ ve­hi­cle over­turned at the Des­ruis­seaux junc­tion. It was later re­vealed that the cause of death was a heart attack. He was only 58. The is­land had lost a son of the soil and Saint Lu­cia’s first chief forestry of­fi­cer, who had im­pacted im­mensely on the pro­tec­tion and con­ser­va­tion of one of our most pre­cious re­sources, the land it­self.

“He died en route do­ing the things he loved in­clud­ing an early morn­ing bird watch with a few friends,” An­thony says. “And we should do all in our pow­ers to carry on his le­gacy by show­ing our love for this coun­try and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the flora, fauna, plants, an­i­mals, for­est, which give it its nat­u­ral beauty.”

Gabriel “Coco”

Charles.

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