From Sharon . . .
The photo says it all! Do we need our wildlife corridor which stretches to the north and south along portions of the Western Highway? This recent photograph underscores the importance of these remaining wildlands in Belize. The young jaguar crossing the highway somewhere near mile 40, was following mother jaguar. She had already crossed. Luckily, a camera-toting visitor to Belize, took the shot of her youngster, who was following in steady pursuit.
The Belize Forest Department has been actively promoting the Wildlife Corridor. Working with local scientists, a billboard was erected by St. Matthew’s village, which beautifully advertises these special wildlands. In addition, Forest Department official Mr. Jazmin Ramos and his fellow officers, have seen that signs are interspersed along the Western Highway announcing the presence of the Wildlife Corridor.
The Belize Zoo environmental education team, Jamal Andrewin and Celesha Guy, have visited schools and communities located nearby or within the Wildlife Corridor territory. Often dressed as jaguars, they continue to bring into classrooms valuable and fun lessons about these magnificent cats, who call Belize their home. It is vital that all are aware of the lands and resources necessary in order to keep jaguars alive and well in our country.
What is needed? A jaguar requires an expansive territory in which to hunt and find mates. It has been documented that a jaguar will easily travel 100 miles in one day in search of food. Deer, peccary, armadillo and reptiles will make a jaguar a happy cat when it comes time to dine. Maintaining our remaining forests in some state of integrity is the key to keeping jaguars in Belize for future generations.
Belize is unique in Central America. Rare and endangered species of wildlife still, as beautifully shown by the above photo, roam wild and free. Keeping a healthy amount of our nation forested will serve to provide a strong natural resources profile, and contribute to our important nature-based tourism economy.
Bad development brings environmental degradation as well as a loss of valuable wildlife. No better example of this exists than the Challilo Dam. Insufficient energy output. Pushing our remaining scarlet macaw populations into a future clearly marked by extirpation. Contamination of the Macal river and the fish in that river. Sorry, folks. You can’t safely bathe in the Macal river, eat the fish from the Macal river, or drink the water from the Macal river, as you could just ten years ago. This is an unsound development scheme. The Challilo Dam is anything but a balance between conservation and development. And that necessary balance strategy is what must be put into place in order to ensure that our jaguars will be crossing the Western Highway for years to come.