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'Papa Bois' cleared to stay in Mayaro forest
In Response To: Man lives 40 years in forest ()

'Papa Bois' cleared to stay in Mayaro forest

SYLVESTER "Dogo" BINDA, the 72-year-old man who earned the title "Papa Bois" of the Mayaro forest after living there for 40 years, was yesterday paid a visit by Deputy Conservator of Forest, Seuram Jhilmit, and a team of foresters. Jhilmit and director of Northern Range Reafforestation Project, Seepersad Ramnarine, apologised to Binda for what foresters regarded yesterday as "minor" destruction last week Friday to the man's cassava garden.

However, Jhilmit told Binda that he had entered and occupied the Mora forest illegally, but having been there for more than 25 years could afford him some right to tenancy under the Squatter Regularisation Act.

Apologising to Binda, Jhilbit told him that he would very much like him to remain in the forest and "take care of it for the country."

Jhilbit assured Papa Bois that the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Public Utilities and the Environment would not continue to clear his cassava garden to replant the forest with cedar trees.

Binda, who lives in a makeshift camp surrounded by dense forest, is regarded by hunters and UWI students as the forest scientist. He shot into the limelight this week in an exclusive Newsday expose on how he confronted foresters brush-cutting his casssava garden.

Binda survived for 40 years in the forest on cassava dumplins, bananas and fruits. Foresters had asked Binda to produce a deed for the land. Fearing eviction from his shack, Binda told Newsday that he would not give up life in the forest, where he established communion with the forest animals. The elderly man vowed he would face death before leaving.

On Tuesday, the South-Eastern Hunters' Association made a claim on Binda's behalf to the Forestry Division for monetary compensation for the damaged crops.

Led by foresters from the Forestry Division, Jhilmit and Ramnarine accompanied a Newsday team into the forest yesterday morning to meet Binda and survey the garden plot which Binda claimed was destroyed. Binda was not in his shack, but emerged from the forest with a cutlass in his hand.

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'Papa Bois' fights back
Man lives 40 years in forest
'Papa Bois' cleared to stay in Mayaro forest
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