The Dally News. Friday, June 3 1994 1t
Listen to the older folks and learn to love nature
It was an accident that I was
born on St. Thomas, the land of
such great people as Edward W.
Blyden. Rothschild Francis, J. Ray-
mond Jones and Valdemar Hill Sr.
However, I was fortunate to be
born while my grandfather was
alive. Jimmy Industrious, my
grandfather, was a farmer, fisher-
man and naturalist in Tortola.
As the summer approaches, most
children are getting ready to enter
summer camps. In the late 1950s
and '60s, I used to visit my grand-
parents in Cane Garden Bay, Toro-
a every summer.
It was there that my grandfather
instilled in me the pride of being an
African, the fear of God and the
Today, many grand- and great-
grandparents are put up in gover-
mental houses and often forgotten
except on special occasions such as
Christmas. birthdays or Thanksgiv-
Some people believe, however.
that our grandparents are only put
in these homes to die quickly.
The senior citizens of these
islands are the backbone of our cul-
ture and the historians of how these
islands once were.
Many children today know little
or nothing at all about these islands'
natural history. Traditional educa-
lion was a natural phenomenon in
the Virgin Islands culture where
grandparents passed down knowl-
edge to children. Today, there is a
generation gap where the traditional
education is not frequently passed
down to our children.
Our children know more about
George Washington and Abraham
Lincoln than those who struggled in
these islands for our freedom in a
society where injustice was the law
of the land.
However, the old people of yes-
terday knew how to survive. They
knew if it rained on New Year's
day that they would have a dry
They also knew when the sea
turtles would come to shore by
looking at them in the clouds at
The streams, cultivated crops.
wild edible plants, the sea. trust in
God and hard work were the foun-
dation where our grandparents built
these islands' economy.
Nowadays, we hear a lot about
the environment and the impact
man has on the ecosystem.
The environmental movement
did not start today, but rather yes-
In the early 1900s, a child was
born in Frederiksted, St. Croix. then
known as the Danish West Indies.
no road leading into Caledonia and
we used to park our dilapidated run-
about under an aged mango Iree not
Olasee too far off the old dirt road leading
Davis to the lighthouse.
Little did George A. Seaman know
that he would set the stage for envi-
ronmental awareness in these
A naturalist by birth, he set out
to know the Virgin Islands' envi-
ronment. especially St. Croix's.
George A. Seaman can tell us about
catching fish at Concordia at night.
He can tell us about when he
used to swim below the bridge at
Castle Burke, a small river then
catching mudfish. He can also tell
us about eels in Upper Love sream.
The Harden gut just out of Fred-
eriksted town George A. Seaman
can tell us how the town people
there used to wash their clothes.
Caledonia valley, the deep rain for-
est--a spectacular site- is one of
the three waterfall area on St.
This area was also explored by
George A. Seaman when he was a
He said. "At the time, there was
From here we would follow a
little path that skirted the stream
and in one place crossed.
On this particular day. as we
paused by the crossing, the sun lit
up some exquisitely blue objects
lying on the stones in the fast gur-
Hundreds of years ago. Caledo-
nia stream used to meet the ocean
where fish used to swim up stream
and lay their eggs.
This was fantastic to little
George A. Seaman when he and his
friends found small gobies, a fish
restricted to fast-moving rivers and
In this area also, Caledonia for-
est is the home of the bare-legged
owls that few people ever see.
The Caledonia rain forest is also
home to many species of birds.
trees such as vanilla, cocoa, silk
cotton, crabs and other animals that
are not too common.
In 1949, George A. Seaman was
appointed wildlife supervisor of the
Virgin Islands. The child who grew
up loving nature had a chance to
study wildlife scientifically.
He carried out surveys of exist-
ing bird species and their life histo-
ries in order to provide a working
management plan for island game
birds. Back then, thcre were many
game birds that were hunted.
Mountain dove. red neck pigeon,
white-crowned pigeon, quail dove,
known locally as "partridge," and
small ground dove were all studied
There were hundreds of other
bird species that once dominated
these islands environment.
George A. Seaman also studied
other wildlife and published several
Some of the books are "Stick
from the Hawks Nest." "Virgin
Islands Dictionary," "Not So Cat
Walk." and "Ay-Ay, an Island
His works and books about the
natural history of these islands
should be part of our school cur-
riculum for all children to read.
This is one way of closing the
generation gap between grandpar-
ents and grandchildren.
Olasee Davins who holds a mas-
ter of science degree in range man-
agement and forestry ecology, is a
St. Croix ecologist, activist and