January 05, 2011
An American photographer is visiting Belize to document the American Crocodilian in at least two areas of the country.
Jorge Aldana reporting….
“Many scientists believe that Belize is one of the few places in the Western hemisphere that still has a healthy population of the American Crocodilians, commonly referred to as the American saltwater crocodile. That is now a matter of debate since it is believed that the American crocodile population is not at strong and healthy as believed. That’s because while they are considered endangered, their habitats are threatened by development. In the case of Ambergris Caye, their habitats have been invaded due to the rapid growth of the island, to the point that crocodiles physically live amongst humans. In their fight for survival, the apex predator finds itself either feeding on waste or prey on domesticated animals; something that is becoming a problem for the human population on the island. It is a problem caused by humans and if enough is not done to control the imbalance in the ecosystem, it can lead to further complications. In an effort to educate more Belizeans about the importance of the American saltwater crocodile in the immediate environment and the food chain, the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary (ACES) has been doing several works to raise more awareness. Hence, ACES is hosting an American photographer, who is on a mission to document the reptile through his lenses. Photographer Brandon Sideleau spoke to the media and explained more about his visit to Belize.
Brandon Sideleau – Photgrapher
“I am just here working with them. I am going down to Punta Gorda later on which is where ACES was burned down on September 5, 2010 and I am going to document that and maybe film Vince while he goes through the wreckage. I am going to interview both Vince and Cherie as well. I do crocodilian science as well but right now my main focus is photography but I am also doing journalistic work down here as well for Adam Britton of Crocodilian.com and they are out of Darwin, Australia. I plan to shed a bit of light on the situation on Belize with the American crocodile; its population isn’t as strong as many status reports would make it seem. They seem to portray this as one of the last stronghold of the American crocodile while they are still definitely here the population is nowhere as strong as they make it sound, especially here in Ambergris Caye. The local development is really impacting that and probably prosecution, hunting, outright killing for no reason of American crocodiles is an issue as well.”
In sharing his observation, Sideleua said that mangrove clearance is a significant contributing factor in loss of habitat of the crocodiles, something that can lead to serious health and ecosystem complications. Sideleau says that through his picture, people will be able to appreciate the creatures more and perhaps see them differently. Sideleau is a well known photographer and works closely with Australian Crocodile Specialist Adam Britton in different broadcast pieces. In addition, he has contributed several pictures to the National Geographic print publications.