Trinidad 2019

The beginning...

The Trinidad 2019 expedition was inspired by the leaf cutter ant display at The Ruth Gorse Academy. Before the expedition, we visited The Leeds Discovery Centre to look at artefacts from Trinidad. We learned about Trinidad’s history and how the country was used by slave traders as a waypoint between Africa and the Americas. Bamboo was introduced to Trinidad as a cheap, fast-growing building material that could be used to make shelters for slaves.

Legacy Talking Points

What impact can invasive species like bamboo have on the native wildlife of Trinidad?
Slavery was abolished in Trinidad in 1838. How far have we come since then?

Day 1 - The Journey
It took us 11 hours to fly to Trinidad! Once we landed, we travelled by bus from the busy centre of Piarco town to the remote William Beebe Tropical Research station deep within the rainforest. This special place is used as a base by scientists all over the world when studying the wildlife of Trinidad. Enjoy the tour by Dhruv and Dhruv!

Legacy Talking Points

The Trinidadian rainforest is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. What is ‘biodiversity’? Why is it important? Should we feel responsible for maintaining it?
We explored the rainforest, and saw our first signs of deforestation. We toured the world-famous Caroni Swamp in a boat! Tourists from all over the world come to see the national bird of Trinidad, the scarlet ibis, fly back to Trinidad after a day of foraging in Venezuela.

Legacy Talking Points

How does deforestation contribute towards climate change? How many reasons for deforestation can you think of? What is Britain’s national bird? Does it matter if a country has one?
Bush Bush Island was the site of the reintroduction of the critically-endangered blue and gold macaw in the early 2000s. Here you can see the flesh of the cannonball fruit oxidising in seconds after its pod is cut open!

Legacy Talking Points

Why do you think the blue and gold macaw became extinct in Trinidad in the 1960s? What does ‘oxidising’ mean?

After a long, steep hike through the rainforest, we finally reached the dark hollows of Tamana Caves. We descended into the caves and spent some time with thousands of bats!

Legacy Talking Points

Bats have a reputation for being vectors of human diseases. What is a ‘vector of disease’? Is it fair to classify bats in this way? Should people visit places like Tamana Caves?
At the Ponte Pierre Wild Fowl Trust we learned about some of the conservation strategies used to protect species like the scarlet ibis.

Legacy Talking Points

Is it right to keep animals in captivity, even if they are threatened in the wild? Is there a better solution for preserving species?
The morning of day 6 saw us driving up into the hills on the outskirts of Arima to visit a catholic monastery. In the afternoon we trekked through the jungle to see the spectacular Maracas waterfall!

Legacy Talking Points

Catholicism is the most popular religion in Trinidad. Why do you think this is? What has it got to do with countries in Europe?
Our final day was very special; we were lucky enough to be invited to meet the staff and students of Arima High School! We got to see how students on the other side of the world experienced school… and some of our teachers even got to teach! There were no smart boards, and students needed to provide their own books!

Legacy Talking Points

The right to education is a human right. What does this mean? How important is the right to education when compared with other human rights?