Belize’s reputation as an eco-paradise has as much to do with people as with the stunning natural environment. We’re always hearing about individuals who show a deep commitment to the environment and take it upon themselves to protect our endangered animals and ensure their survival. Jamal Galves is one of those people.
A recent story from the Belize Zoo was so heart-warming that we thought we take the unprecedented step of posting it here in its entirety. More and more, Belize is being known as an eco-paradise, due to the vibrant eco-tourism industry, environmental education in our schools and the efforts of individuals, groups and businesses in caring for and protecting our land, water and wildlife. We’ve posted stories about crocodile and manatee rescues in the past, and here’s a lovely one about concerned individuals, a local business, a government department, wildlife rescuers and the Belize Zoo all working together to save one of Belize’s iconic birds. We think such efforts should be acknowledged, so why not share this one if you like it?
A “Caracol remote-sensing project” was sponsored by the US space agency NASA to determine if LiDAR can be used to see below the forest canopy to provide images of an ancient Maya landscape in Belize. The project was even more successful than researchers hoped it would be, with just a few flyovers providing a more detailed picture of this ancient city than all the previous, painstaking on the ground research had. The project produced a detailed view of nearly 80 square miles, more than six times the area previously mapped, showing the topography, ancient structures, causeways, and agricultural terraces. Researchers now have a much better picture of how big Caracol actually was, how it was structured, and how the ancient Maya altered their landscape to create a sustainable urban environment. Because of this, some previous ideas about how this amazing civilisation developed are being reconsidered.
Local market days are great opportunities to experience Belizean life and color, and this is certainly true for Cayo where every Saturday the market area comes alive with its own multicultural blend of colors, sounds, flavors and foodstuffs. This is the day when farmers and almost everyone comes into San Ignacio town to buy, sell, trade, gossip and generally catch up. If you want to experience real Western Belize life, this is the place, and what a pleasant, heady experience it is. Vendors from nearby and remote communities contribute to the melodic mix of Maya, Creole, English and Spanish while Mennonite farmers can be heard conversing in German.
While this was the end of the 2014 Eco Kids Educational Camp, it was also the beginning for 24 newly hatched environmentalists, who now have a better appreciation of Belize’s stunning natural world and an understanding of what it takes to ensure that Belize’s precious natural resources will still be around for their children, and their children’s children.
Let’s Cheer on Belize’s Commonwealth Games Athletes!
Belize’s fastest men and women began competing yesterday in the 20th Commonwealth Games at Glasgow, and, along with most of the country, managers, staff and guests at Chaa Creek we are cheering for them and anxiously awaiting more great results.
With the track and field competitions on at the games yesterday, Sunday 27 July, Kaina Martinez ranked 5th and Mark Anderson ranked 8th on their 100 metre qualifying heats. Bravo to them for a job well done!
Kenneth Medwood …
We promised an update on the Eco Kids educational summer camp, and as our budding environmentalists rounded the half way mark of this weeklong educational adventure the job just got harder – not from trying to find things to write about, but by having way too many cool things to pick and choose from. There’s no doubt the Eco Kids have definitely hit the right balance between education and fun while giving their dedicated camp councillors a run for their money.
A recent NY Times article shows how Australian environmental technology is being used to monitor destructive, illegal fishing activity along the Belize Barrier Reef, and, with other Green applications planned for the future, giving the non-military use of drones a good name. Belize Fisheries Department personnel are now being trained up to operate small but highly effective drones to patrol Belizean waters in a bid to combat illegal fishing, just as this year’s lobster season begins. It seems only fitting that Australia, with the world’s largest Great Barrier Reef, has developed drone technology that is coming to the aid of Belize, home to the world’s second largest barrier reef.
One of the dangers of vacations is a tendency to try to cram too much in. The whole point of a holiday is to relax, isn’t it? Some of our best days away have been the ones where you wake up to a day that’s a blank canvas, and then decide how to fill it yourself. And that’s where day trips come in, those short excursions that can be undertaken at a drop of the hat, freeing up holiday time to just lounge, talk, reconnect and recharge. Fortunately, Belize has such a variety of awesome day trips that visitors can choose from a menu of a la carte activities and mix and match day excursions to create their own rich, totally satisfying holiday adventures. So, in the spirit of “I’ll take one from column A, one from column B, and finish off with a treat from the desert trolley”, here are three sumptuous choices from Belize’s smorgasbord of activities.
The latest tour, running from Germany to Serbia with a big showing at the prestigious “Summer of Antwerp” festival, drew crowds from all over Europe, attended by faithful fans and many others getting their first taste of what has been hailed as some of the most unique, refreshing sounds coming out of the Americas. The tour supported the European release of the Collective’s most recent album, Ayó (Goodbye), which the UK’s Guardian newspaper described as starting “with a lilting farewell to (Andy) Palacio, and eases into rousing, soulful songs driven by guitars and the distinctive rhythms of the Garifuna hand-drums, with strong vocals from Lloyd Augustine and Desiree Diego, and a dash of dub and funk.”
Like many people in Belize, especially those of us with an interest in Maya culture, history and archaeology, the news that Dr Jaime Awe was stepping down from his post as the Director of the National Institute of Culture and History’s Institute of Archaeology (IA) came as a surprise. No one, and we do mean no one, has done as much for archaeology in Belize as Dr Awe. Working tirelessly and passionately, Dr Awe makes Belize’s rich Maya heritage come alive for a countless number of students, writers, observers and ordinary citizens.
The report specifically acknowledges Belize’s success in protecting the marine environment and working towards the sustainability of local fisheries. “Belize has been a leader in the region for establishing marine protected areas and has a world-renowned system of marine reserves many of which form the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage Site,” Janet Gibson, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Belize Program reports. “It’s clear that no-take zones can help replenish the country’s fisheries and biodiversity, along with the added benefits to tourism and even resilience to climate change.” The WCS commissioned the report to look at the performance of no-take zones in Belize and in other countries to with an aim towards protecting the world’s highly diverse coral reef systems.
Yes, once again Belize’s young environmental activists are taking to the woods to learn about the natural world and how to protect it through environmental sustainability, responsible travel and hands-on instruction in areas such as Maya organic farming practices while getting a deeper appreciation of Belize’s rich natural and cultural heritage. Oh, and did we mention fun? There will be lots of that during the weeklong Eco-Kids educational summer camp sponsored by The Lodge at Chaa Creek.
With the 2014 Commonwealth Games on the horizon, host Glasgow is busily ironing kilts and preparing venues while the National Olympic Committee confirms the events and names of athletes who will be contending. Yes, sports lovers, it has been announced that Belize will compete in five events at this year’s games.