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Green Jamaica
The Cockpit Country-
The Land that Time Forgot
 


This is not like the rolling hills that form much of Jamaica's landscape nor like the majestic Blue Mountains soaring thousands of feet towards the sky. The Cockpit Country more resembles the landscape of an alien planet invented by Asimov. Take an egg carton and turn in upside down. That is precisely what you would see if you flew over the Cockpit Country. Twelve million years ago  Jamaica emerged from the ocean with a large birthmark. This resulted in a vast limestone karst area where hundreds, if not thousands, of varieties of flora and fauna extinct elsewhere still grow and thrive.

On the outskirts are vaguely familiar place names like Wait-A-Bit and Maggoty as well as very familiar names like Appleton. Further in is the historic Accompong the home of the Maroons, a nation within a nation. The central part is a protected 372 square mile area under the care of the Forestry Department.

To learn more about this prehistoric forest visit the Windsor Research Centre's website at www.cockpitcountry.com


Flora

Imagine, in this amazing place there are varieties of 6 orchids, 4 bromeliads, 2 wild yams, 12 herbs, 6 vines, 54 shrubs and 15 trees that grow nowhere else in Jamaica or in the world; and that's only what has been identified. Some of these may only grow on one particular hillock.


Primal Forest


Bromeliad


Fauna

Many of Jamaica's endangered species are to be found living in their natural habitat in the Cockpit Country.


Yellow Snake - Jamaican Boa grows up to 10ft (3m) long


Black-Billed Parrot - and it's yellow-billed cousin both live there


Coney or Jamaican Hutia - guinea pig cousin


Giant Swallowtail - wingspan of up to 6" (15cm)

Amazing information about the Cockpit Country can also be found on the
Jamaican Caves website

 


Other Green Jamaica Articles

Jamaica's Endangered Species

The Jamaican Crocodile

The Cockpit Country

The Blue Mountains

Jamaica's Bounty

The Maroons

Just because the Maroons live a secluded life deep in the countryside don't think they are backward and uncivilized. Remember they are the descendants of Ashanti princes and warriors who fought off the might of the British Army for 75 years. Their leaders are as well-read as any Oxford or Harvard professor.


Statue of a Maroon warrior stands guard at Accompong

The story of the Maroons starts in 1655 when the British captured Jamaica from the Spanish. The fleeing Spaniards freed their slaves who vanished into the hills where they were joined by generations of runaway slaves. There they became the "Thorn in the Side" of the British Government.

In 1690, the Maroons led by Cudjoe started a highly organised guerilla war against the British. Cudjoe was supposed to be a short, thickset bear of a man, possibly a hunchback, but was a brilliant strategist.  He & his brother Accompong led the Leeward (western side of the Cockpit) while sub-chiefs Quao and Cuffee led the Windward (eastern) Maroons. This was the First Maroon War.


British Col. Guthrie offers peace to Cudjoe

This protracted warfare resulted in a Peace Treaty on 6th January 1738. Under this Treaty the Maroons were granted 1500 acres and full independence. This was 100 years before the abolition of slavery and more than 200 years before Jamaica as a Country gained Independence. The Maroons therefore have their own laws and judicial system. However, individuals accused of crimes which may involve the death penalty are handed over to the Jamaican government.


Entrance to Accompong

The Maroons are governed by a Board of Elders led by a Colonel. "Colonel of the Maroons" is no longer a life-time title but an elected post. The current leader is Col. Sidney Peddie.

Every January 6th there is a Celebration of the signing of the Peace Treaty. So, in 2008 when Jamaica celebrates 46 years of Independence, the Maroons celebrate their 270th.

 

 

Green Links:

National Environmental & Planning Agency

Environmental Foundation of Jamaica

Institute of Jamaica

Forestry Department

Water Resources Authority

Cockpit Country

Northern Jamaica Conservation Association

Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals

Jamaican Caves


 

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