How do we miss GHNS?
Figure 1. Bajan kid claiming to protect the
Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary in 2008. Picture taken by Corrie Scott
Throughout different websites and social media, several comments have expressed their despair as the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary (GHNS) is closed.
On October 2008 after reading an article about the closure of GHNS, one Bajan wrote,
“This news leaves me heart-broken and spitting mad! My mom was Bajan and I have spent many wonderful visits there over the years. The rampant commercial development I’ve seen in the past 10-15 years may be great for jobs and pockets of those in positions of power but it does nothing for the long-term good of the people of Barbados or the small allotment of precious land that can be passed on to our children. I hope that something will be done at the 11th hour to save this wonderful gift that Peter Allard created – come together now!”.
Eight years later, a tourist from Canada visited the GHNS and expressed,
“Sanctuary is the name, and sanctuary it is... Such a shame! that most of the sanctuary is closed to visitors due to some dispute between the benefactor and the Barbadian Government”.
It is a mystery to many why the Government of Barbados is not encouraging and assisting with the re-opening of GHNS when the country relies on its tourism industry. In February 2018, a visitor from the United Kingdom left a review on TripAdvisor:
“The place really is a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity away from the ruins, sewage, traffic fumes and drug dealers in the local area. We would have loved to look around the whole place but were informed that it is closed due to issues with the government”.
The eminent travel website, TripAdvisor, mentions GHNS among fifteen ‘Things to do in Barbados’ and further describing the activity:
“Stroll down the boardwalk and observe tropical wildlife and migrating birds in their natural habitat at this wildlife reserve.”
Another traveller wrote a review expressing her sorrow,
“Sadly, the Sanctuary was closed when I arrived at 11:00am on Saturday 1st Feb 2020. A sign on the gates indicated the Cafe was closed until further notice. I was unable to see any signs displaying opening times. The Aviary looked huge and the place seemed cared for. I believe there is a problem with water supply and its existence is threatened by developers, this would be a huge loss to the tourism industry”.
But the ‘tranquillity’ or ambience is not the only thing which is attracting the visitors. Anita Winter from London marked,
“I remember the aviary so well with many tropical birds. The flamingos were gorgeous and a very spectacular toucan plus lots of colourful parrots. It has still been the very best feeling to go back to the sanctuary every year if only to sit with a cool drink and take in the beautiful scene”.
A visitor from Saint Vincent and Grenadines summarized GHNS beautifully:
“The Sanctuary was run exemplary in many aspects... not only the vast water habitat with numerous wildlife, over 80 recorded species of birds and other wildlife protected and taken care of. An impressive marine animal exhibition, voleries, viewing boxes, walkways above the water all across, an area for educational material especially interesting for children plus lovely playgrounds, a shaded mini-golf court, and a nice restaurant for relaxation. Basically, everything one could dream of in order to spend quality time”.
We encourage and hope that the people of Barbados and the international community will come together to save and protect GHNS before it is too late.