28th Jan 1922-18th Dec 2011
BUFFALYPSO: a word coined from the words “buffalo” and “calypso” to represent the special breed of cattle developed by Dr. Bennett.
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY: the art of rearing animals
TUBERCULOSIS: a disease that affects the respiratory system, primarily the lungs, but also other parts of the body
Caribbean Icons in STI Volume 1
Dr. Stephen Bennett developed a disease-resistant breed of water buffalo named the buffalypso. The Indian water buffalo that was introduced to Trinidad as “beast of burden” on the sugar estates was a tough animal. It was less infected with the disease tuberculosis, so Dr. Bennett chose them for selective breeding. After years of research he developed the buffalypso (Bubalis bubalis) in the early 1960s.
The buffalypso is a prized breed because of its thick skin that withstands parasites and its good quality beef and milk production. The skin is used in the manufacture of leather goods; its outer layer is used for belts and shoes and the thin inner layer for handbags. The breed was introduced to Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, the USA and Italy, among other countries.
Dr. Bennett also pioneered veterinary practice in Trinidad and the Caribbean. He established services for racehorses, farm and domestic animals. Together with Dr. William Jones, he established a leading small animal clinic in Trinidad and Tobago.
Stephen Bennett was bnorn in Princes Town, Trinidad on January 28th 1922. At the age of ten, he became a professional jockey. While attending Presentation College, he took part in horseracing and other sports.
After high school, he studied agriculture at the University of Guelph, Canada, and specialised in animal husbandry. He was an exceptional student and won the prize for the highest total marks in the University. He returned to Trinidad during World War 2. He worked briefly on his father’s dairy farm and after the war, he went abroad to continue hiss studies in veterinary medicine. In those days, “vets” only treated horses and many people advised “the age of horses are gone, we are now in the age of cars”, but this did not discourage him. He graduated in 1948 and became known throughout the Caribbean for his unmatched skills as a “Vet” who took care of horses, mules, cattle, water buffaloes, cats and dogs.
Dr Bennett received many awards for his contribution as a pioneer in veterinary medicine and as the man who developed the buffalypso. among these are the Chaconia Medal, Gold (1984) from the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and an Honorary Degree from the University of the West Indies (2001).
Dr. Bennett’s advice to youngsters is to “try and get in a field you really like because it is the only way to excel”.