Pride in PAWI Project Overview

Project Summary

The Trinidad Piping Guan or Pawi, Pipile pipile, is endemic to Trinidad and is globally among the most endangered cracids.  Its population of approximately 230 individuals is now thought to be confined to the north-eastern forests of Trinidad, but was historically widespread on the island.  Its conservation status is listed as critically endangered (CR) by the IUCN.

The Pawi is being affected by degradation of its habitats through deforestation including quarrying and the encroachment of the built environment; the bird also falls prey to hunters.

The Guardian Life Wildlife Fund, in collaboration with national and international partners, has taken up the challenge to help save the Pawi and has embarked on a “Pride in Pawi” Project, a comprehensive communication programme aimed at educating nationals on the Pawi and encouraging protection of this endangered bird.  This umbrella project will be carried out on three main platforms: Platform I – Community Intervention and Capacity Building, Platform II – Schools Campaign, and Platform III – National Awareness.

The Promise of the

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Pride In Pawi: Preserving a National Treasure

The Trinidad Piping Guan or Pawi, Pipile pipile, is endemic to Trinidad and is globally among the most endangered cracids. With a population of approximately 230, its conservation status is listed as critically endangered.

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The current grant supports Platform I of the Pride in Pawi umbrella project. This Platform I in the Pride in Pawi umbrella project aims to educate hunters, the local communities in areas in which the Pawi has been sighted, and other stakeholders about the threatened status of this species, its national importance and value to conservation.  

This community-based approach will serve to increase local community interest and participation in conservation of this guan.

Building and maintaining these relationships, encouraging education and interest in the Trinidad Piping Guan (or Pawi) will lay the foundation for eco tourism and alternative sustainable appreciation of Pawi and its habitat. This approach will also build local community knowledge and capacity to receive and enhance on an ongoing basis the wider interest generated through the other two platforms of the umbrella project.

The project will engage and liaise with relevant government bodies and state agencies such as the Forestry Division's Wildlife Section and the Environmental Management Authority who are also key stakeholders. It is hoped that they will be co-opted in the community training along with representatives of the Asa Wright Nature Centre, the Pawi Study Group, the Guardian Life Wildlife Fund, the World Pheasant Association, the Confederation of Hunters’ Associations for Conservation, and Birdlife International.

This project seeks to leverage the existing relationships among the local communities, NGOs and State Agencies in such a way that will empower the communities to actively protect the Pawi and its habitats. Activities to foster this will include training in ecotourism, provision of opportunities for local people to effectively manage their resources (e.g. through their designation as Honourary Game Wardens), and to be actively involved in research and education activities in their communities.

The rural communities of Brasso Seco, Brasso Tamana, Grande Riviere, Guayaguayare, Moruga, Blanchisseuse, Matura and Matelot will benefit through training in species identification. This training can serve as the basis for guan-centred eco-tourism and provides an opportunity to increase local pride and sense of ownership of this species.

Project Baseline

At present, in the rural communities where the Pawi is known to occur (e.g. in Grande Riviere, Matelot, Matura and Brasso Seco), there is some level of public knowledge about the Pawi as a result of the efforts of the Forestry Division/RARE programme and subsequent efforts of the Asa Wright Nature Centre and the Pawi Study Group, and individual members of staff and students of the University of the West Indies.

However it should be noted that the degree of community engagement in habitat management, species conservation, sustainable livelihoods or educational activities directly related to the Pawi remains very limited. The implementation of this project will allow for several measurable changes in local communities to be engaged in this project.

Such key indicators for this project include:

  • The degree of local knowledge about the Pawi, its location, distribution, behaviours and habitats;
  • The numbers of persons visiting local communities specifically to bird-watch for the Pawi;
  • The number of persons employed directly or indirectly in eco-tourism arising from the Pawi’s presence in forests next to a community;
  • The number of persons from the communities engaged as Pawi Guardians;
  • The number of records of piping guans detected in habitats around the 8 target communities
  • Negotiations and interventions by communities for official demarcation of selected forests as protected Pawi habitat

Project Location

The broad location of this project is in the remaining closed-canopy forest of the island of Trinidad, representing approximately 1/3 of the island. This includes deciduous, semi-evergreen, evergreen lowland and montane forests, which were part of the Pawi’s original habitat. In particular, the rural communities of Brasso Seco, Brasso Tamana, Grande Riviere, Guayaguayare, Moruga, Blanchisseuse, Matura and Matelot will be the location for many of the project activities.

Project Objectives

Key project objectives are:

  • To educate local stakeholders, including hunters, in the value of finding and protecting the Pawi and its habitat;
  • To establish and expand an “army” of local “Pawi Guardians” that will spread the word in local communities near to known and potential Pawi habitats;
  • To encourage community interventions towards official designation of selected forests as protected Pawi habitat; and
  • To consolidate best practices and lessons learned with the aim of sharing and knowledge management.

Defined Method of Approach

The approach is to conduct educational workshops in communities near known and suspected Pawi habitats. These workshops will be used to educate, encourage, and recruit “Pawi Guardians”, including hunters, from within the communities who will spread the word about Pawi preservation and help to find the Pawi and provide data about the Pawi and its habitat.

The Pawi Guardians will also be engaged in field activities and be taught skills and provided with knowledge that can help them benefit from the eco-tourism potential provided by this remarkable species. Transfer of knowledge between communities through internships and assignment of Pawi Guardians to understudy successful community based eco-tourism and conservation projects will be utilized as a key strategy for community empowerment. Partner organizations to this 'Pride in Pawi’ project will be drawn upon to provide expertise to facilitate such hands-on training of community participants.

The data gathered over the course of the project will be communicated to various stakeholders including the general population to help develop a national pride in the Pawi and a consciousness toward preservation of the species and the environment.

The approach, which will be carried out over a 12 month period, has three key stages: (1) the project preparation and community mobilization phase; (2) the execution phase; and (3) the reporting and record keeping phase.

  • The preparation and community mobilization stage is expected to establish partner relationships, acquire resources (human and other), develop plans, and design workshops.
  • The execution stage will cover the implementation of workshops, field activity and data gathering. 
  • Even though monitoring and evaluation will be carried out throughout the project life cycle, the reporting stage is expected to provide final feedback to the communities, project partners, and to funding contributors and other scientific partners. Project outputs include formal reports that have captured learnings shared with partners and the general public to stimulate interest.

Project Deliverables/Desired Outcomes

The expected outcomes are as follows:

  1. Environmental: 
    1. New information on the Pawi distribution and their habitat discovered and mechanism for information sharing established.
    2. Community groups and individuals who actively promote and protect the species and its environment.
    3. Increased community confidence to actively lobby government agencies and negotiate for increased formal protection of remaining forested areas of the country in partnership with other committed stakeholders.

  2. Sustainable Livelihoods:
    1. Local community individuals and groups engaged in eco-tourism activities.

  3. Other (specify):
    1. Buy-in by government policy makers on the critical need for and benefits of rainforest management

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Carol James, Chairman, Guardian Life Wildlife Fund

Mr. Mark Webster, Trustee, Guardian Life Wildlife Fund and Project Manager of Pride in Pawi