Belize Baboon Sanctuary: You Say “Baboon” – We Say “Howler Monkey”

Another wonderful animal, indigenous to Belize, is the “baboon” – now, don’t worry, due to a strange twist in the local lingo and the amazing sound that this animal makes, the Belizean baboon is not the aggressive baboon we have seen so much of – that animal is only found in the wild in Africa.

Belize boasts a “Baboon Sanctuary” that is for the little howler monkey.  Just listen to this one and you will understand why it has been confused with its larger, more fear-invoking cousin:

Clearly the little creature you see in this photo does not seem capable of making so much noise, but apparently, it only comes from the males who, being quite territorial, just want everyone to know WHERE they are (so no other male gets the bright idea to come over) and THAT they are (I’m here – don’t forget me, I may be small but I’ll wake you up!).

These monkeys are definitely more approachable than the African baboon.  Take a look at how friendly they have become at the “Baboon Sanctuary”:

The Community Baboon Sanctuary, near Bermudian Landing is located just 27 miles from Belize City, this sanctuary is located along the Belize River. The Community Baboon Sanctuary is a cooperative venture of private landowners (many of whom are subsistence farmers), conservationists and their organizations, and biological researchers. Their common aim is, by attracting and charging small fees to environmentally-aware visitors, to preserve extensive forest habitat for a large population of wild primates (the so-called “baboons,” actually Black Howler Monkeys) and, coincidentally, for all the other wild animals and plants that inhabit the region.

Dr. Robert Horwich, a biologist from the USA, was instrumental in establishing the sanctuary. He arrived in the area in 1981 to study the howler monkeys, and quickly became aware of the shrinking populations of the species (which is limited to Belize, northern Guatemala, and Mexico’s Yucatan region). The obvious cause: continued cutting and burning of the forest habitat in which the monkeys lived. In 1984 Horwich and colleagues approached villagers in the area with the idea of forming a cooperative wildlife sanctuary in which all participants might benefit: the local landowners would agree to preserve their remaining forested lands for the benefit of wildlife and to practice farming methods consistent with habitat preservation in return for help with farming, soil erosion control, healthy water management, and participation in ecotourism. Thus, the local people benefit by learning better farming practices, by helping to preserve wildlife and natural habitats, and, for some, by providing paid services (guided tours, restaurants, bed-and-breakfast-style accommodations) to visitors. The animals benefit because their living space is preserved, and researchers and ecotourists benefit because the animals and habitats are available for study and viewing.

It is a win-win-win!!!

P.S. Here is some information on our Belize Conservation Projects.

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