Labba rampage threatens Amerindian communities
- matter raised at Cabinet

By Jaime Hall
Guyana Chronicle
May 17, 2001

A LABBA (Agouti paca) rampage in the Paramakatoi/Kato area in Region Eight (Potaro Siparuni) is posing a threat to the livelihood of Amerindian residents and is engaging the attention of Cabinet.

And an Inter-Ministry committee, headed by Amerindian Affairs Minister, Ms Carolyn Rodrigues, has been set up to assess the damage done to farms in the area.

Reports coming out of the region stated that about two weeks ago the animals began destroying food crops including cassava, at Kurukabaru, Kato, Paramakatoi and Kopinang villages.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Mr. Phulander Kandhi said that a report on how Amerindian farming communities there are being affected since the attack was due to be submitted to the ministry yesterday.

He said that based on the findings, the government will take the necessary action to address the problem.

Amerindians in the region depend mainly on subsistence farming for their livelihood and the rodents are attacking mainly cassava, a produce that is essential in Amerindian diet.

Officers from the Region Eight Administration and the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) will soon visit the area to further assess the problem to determine the level of government assistance that would be needed.

The labba is a red/brown, white-spotted animal from the rodent family and is considered a pest in farming areas.

It feeds on foods such as tuber, cassava, avocado and mangoes and is commonly found near water and dense thickets and open forests.

Nature School Lecturer at the Guyana Zoological Park, Mr. Donald Gunraj said that animals coming from the rodent family are very prolific and if not culled, could have a population explosion.

He could not say exactly what may have caused the animals in Region Eight to reproduce so rapidly and described the recent flood of labba as a strange phenomenon.

The Agouti paca usually mates in February and July.

The animals are usually present where there is a predominance of food and that could have been one of the reasons for their dominance in the region, the official said.

Gunraj also said that where there is very little hunting of the animals, the places can easily become over-populated with labba.

He also said that the prolonged dry spell may have had some effect on the animals.