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An Event To Remember And Cherish

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Smiles were the call of the day from dignitaries and an enthusiastic, large crowd attending the official Memo of Understanding (MOU) for The Central Belize Corridor, CBC, in Burrell Boom recently.  Dr. Alan Rabinowitz,  Hon. Minister Lisell Alamilla, and University of Belize’s acting president, Dr. Wilma Wright, joined together to sign an important document which brings formal standing to the lands which connect the northern portions of our nation, to the forests found southward.

Dr. Elma Kay, Director of the Environmental Research Institute, ERI, at the University of Belize, delivered profound remarks about the important role forest corridors play on behalf of the preservation of our priceless natural resources.  “Connectivity between the forests which provide sanctuary for important species in Belize, radiate into our neighboring countries of Guatemala and Mexico.  These forests, known as the Selva Maya, are key to sustaining a rich biodiversity for our future generations.”  Hon Minister Lisell Alamilla brought attention to the important efforts being made in southern Belize in order to support the vital role of forest connectivity.  Dr. Wright noted the vital role which UB plays in promoting student participation and awareness for active support of these concepts.

The history of the role which the mighty jaguar plays in this scenario was clearly stated by Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, the CEO of Panthera.  Dr. Alan came to Belize thirty years ago, and initiated the first study ever of jaguars in the rainforest.  His hard work and commitment resulted in the establishment of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, which is under the sound and efficient management of the Belize Audubon Society.   Dr. Alan took time to visit the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary during his stay in Belize, and was impressed with the management of the Sanctuary, and he loved the enthusiasm of the Maya Centre villagers. Yes! They love the Wildlife Sanctuary and take pride in their important involvement to see that this protected area thrives.

Dr. Alan’s recollections of his early days in Belize were startling.  At that time, jaguars were known to actually venture into the borders of Belize City!  His attempts to apply for a permit from the Forest Department for his jaguar study were casually brushed aside.  “There are plenty of jaguars out there.  Go study them!”  He reflected upon this time period when it was actually advertised in hunting magazines that Belize was the country to go to for “jaguar hunting”.

Times, of course, have changed.  Situations have also changed.  Rather than being a hunting ground for the incredible jaguar, Belize is now known throughout the world as a role model conservation base aimed at preserving this superb animal for future generations.  

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