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Raptor Education Soars in Stann Creek

In December, nearby the Stann Creek  village of Alta Vista, a juvenile Solitary Eagle was shot.  One of the rarest raptors in Central America, the loss of this magnificent bird was a tragedy.  No, the eagle was not preying upon chickens, ducks, dogs, or anything of value to anyone.  Simply observing his surroundings, he was sadly introduced to the human device known as a shotgun.  Eagle gone.


Despite the loss of the juvenile, its discovery, along with the sighting of both parents days later, certainly indicated the possibility of a population in the area. This, coupled with the discovery of a single other Solitary Eagle nest in the Mountain Pine Ridge area, Cayo District, was the first discovery of a nest in Central America, in more than 50 years!

Education Officer, Jamal Andrewin, working in concert with the Belize Raptor Research Institute, BRRI, recently made a journey to Pomona village, Alta Vista’s neighbour .  His fun mission was to share with two schools , an exciting program about raptors and the vital role they play in our local environment.
Two schools, St. Matthew’s RC, and Holy Angel’s Primary School, received the program, and their response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic.  

Eager young children gave their full attention to Mr. Jamal as he explained to them what raptors needed to hunt, what they ate, and how they establish an important degree of balance within our environment.  To enhance the program with a bit of “dress up bombast”, out came huge raptor wings, made to represent the large wingspan of the one and only bird-so-big, the Harpy Eagle. The children took turns dressing up like an eagle, and had the chance to feel the mighty force of having giant wings instead of arms.   Vital points shared with the kids included:   If you ARE a raptor, your supper is likely to be a snake, rodent, quash or an iguana.   And if you ARE an raptor, your elegant presence should be respected, not brought to an end by a misguided shotgun owner.

Another point made was the fact that many people would like to visit the village area, with the hope of seeing mighty raptors and other birds of Belize, through their binoculars.  Especially if there’s a chance to see and study the ultra rare Solitary Eagle! This would mean more interest and revenue for the communities.  These worthwhile lessons were readily accepted by the children and teachers present that day.


 Hopefully, Mr. Jamal’s travelling Eagle Show will work to ensure that further persecutions of our elegant raptors will not occur, and a more positive profile, for both raptor and village, will emerge from a better understanding about the natural world of our unique country.


 

 

 

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