Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wildlife Adventure in Belize

Howler Monkey Belize

Belize has become one of the most attractive vacation destinations in the western Caribbean not only because it’s the only English speaking country in Central America, but because of the many adventure activities available to enjoy both on the cayes and land. Already an excellent destination for snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing, visitors have also become aware of the many great adventures that are possible on the country’s mainland. Adventures Belize is proud to present to all our visitors the ultimate wildlife adventures encounters. Having a great passion for adventure we have decided to customize and personalize three wonderful tours that will allow you to encounter and appreciate some of the most magnificent creatures found in our country.

Spider Monkey & Howler Monkey in Belize

There are only two different types of monkeys residing throughout the jungles of Belize, the Spider Monkey, and the Howler Monkey. Although the Howler Monkey and the Spider Monkey are both found throughout Belize, they are not found only in Belize; their habitat ranges north into Mexico and south into the Amazon region in South America.

Though there are only two types of monkeys in Belize, there are two genus of the Spider Monkey: the Black-Headed and the Geoffroy's. Each the Black-Headed and the Geoffroy's has at least one subspecies in Belize. The Howler Monkey on the other hand has only one species in Belize, called the Guatemalan Black Howler. The Black Howler is a part of the Mantled Howler Group.

As the names suggest the Black Howler and the Black Headed Spider Monkey are both black in color. However, the Geoffroy's Spider Monkey is caramel colored with a chocolate-colored cap on its' head.

The size of the Spider Monkeys in Belize is about the same for both species and weighs about 15 pounds with males being the largest. Other interesting body characteristics of the Spider Monkeys is that their tails, up to 33 inches in length, are longer than their bodies, which is an average of 25 inches long while their arms are 15 - 25 percent longer than their legs and they have no thumbs.

The Black Howler Monkey is by far the largest Monkey in Belize with males weighing about 25 pounds. Although the Howler Monkey is not the largest monkey in the world a Howler's howl can be heard for about 20 miles away, 4 times more than that of a lion's 5-mile voice ranges. This voice range of the Howler Monkey is said to make them the loudest land animal in the world.

The conservation status for monkeys in Belize is very good. Through conservation efforts in Belize, monkeys are now rarely hunted. Due to Belize's slow development, major habitat loss is not much of an issue. Actually one issue to the destruction of habitat is from nature itself as hurricanes are known to damage the rainforest canopy and put the monkeys in danger, though major hurricanes are fairly infrequent. Started in 1985, the Community Baboon Sanctuary Museum and Visitor's Center is the best place in Belize to see monkeys, especially Howlers, "baboons," as Belizean people call them. Day trips from Belize City out to the “Baboon Sanctuary,” the local name for the Sanctuary, are located at Bermudian Landing. The sanctuary has over 40,000 visitors a year and is a true community effort to help protect the monkeys.

Spider Monkeys are known to make good and popular pets in Belize and Central America. Howler Monkeys do not make good pets. It has been said that Howler Monkeys are the only Central American monkey to have never been kept in captivity by Native Americans.

The Spider Monkeys of Belize have been kept as pets and are of no real threat to humans. However, as a tourist it is best to simply observe both Spider's and Howler's in their natural habitat. Although they are, so cute and adorable monkeys in the wild have been known to throw items such as rocks, fruit, and coconuts at people. Feeding or touching monkeys in the wild could bring harm to you, as they are known to bite if they feel threatened. Monkeys can be as dangerous as any other animal found in the wild.
Belize Booby Birds

Belize Booby Birds

In Belize, the Booby is most often found out on the Cayes, most notably Half Moon Caye, part of which, in 1928, was gazetted as a Crown Reserve Bird Sanctuary under the Crown Land Ordinance. The Crown Sanctuary Reserve was specifically dedicated to protecting the Red-Footed Booby Bird. The Crown Reserve was the first and still is the oldest area designated for the protection of wildlife in Belize.

Half Moon Caye is currently home to a colony of about 4,000 plus birds including the Booby Bird. Boobies like to nest in very large colonies among the orange-flowered Ziricote thicket. At the western end of Half Moon Caye, one has a spectacular view of the Boobies from an observation deck.

The Booby mother will lay only one light blue egg in her nest, which is made from sticks. Using their feet both Booby parents will take turns incubating their eggs for about 44 to 46 days then the babies will learn to fly about 3 months after hatching. Boobies must use their feet to incubate their eggs, as they do not have a brood patch. Mating Booby pairs may remain together over several seasons though they do not stay together for life.

The Boobies love of the Ziricote trees is not a one-sided relationship. The Booby colony actually supports the forest's stability with their droppings, which the forest uses as fertilizer. This unique relationship between Booby and Ziricote has and will continue to endure for many future years if it is left alone as nature intended.

The Booby has a unique variety of color morphs, unlike other seabirds. The Boobies on Half Moon Caye are made up almost entirely of white-colored birds with some black markings on the tips of their wings. Elsewhere Boobies are a light brown and looking into the flock you may see a white-tailed brown morph or a Red-Footed Booby that is entirely brown. Despite plumage differences, all of these adults will have the same characteristic: red feet.

Being a coastal bird, it is no surprise that Red-Footed Boobies eat fish. Like many fishing birds, Boobies will dive into the ocean at high rates of speed from the air to catch prey in the water. Their diet has a main makeup of small fish and squid, which will sometimes swim in large numbers close to the water's surface.

The Red-Footed Boobies in Belize are the smallest of all the nine Booby bird species in the world. There are three Booby bird species in Belize: the Masked, Red-Footed, and the Blue-Footed Booby. The Red-Footed Booby is about 28 inches in length and has a wingspan of just over 3 feet. The Boobies' 3-foot wingspan makes them very powerful and agile fliers, however, they are known for clumsy takeoffs and landings.


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