Bi-national Collaboration to Eradicate Wildlife Trafficking in Belize and Guatemala

March 11, 2015



  • The 2012 research to understand the impacts of poaching on game species in the Chiquibul Forest indicated that:

    • Illegal hunting of game species is ‘evenly’ distributed across the Chiquibul Forest
    • Hunters have been targeting large bodied species, leading to a severe reduction on abundance of targeted species.
    • Hunters have begun to target smaller individuals as well as non-traditional game species such as R. sulfuratus.
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    • Hunting is not only affecting targeted species but the whole ecosystem (game species perform key ecological functions- seed dispersers and herbivores), which help to determine tree species structure, composition and spatial distribution.
    • Illegal hunting is occurring at a subsistence and commercial scale.

    To learn more, view presentation on Poaching on Game Species

     

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  • Accumulated research and knowledge of the last 5 years also demonstrates that wildlife trafficking of wild animals including scarlet macaw and tapir, is causing a damaging effects on wildlife especially on parrot populations. To address this situation, FCD with the support of the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development has partnered with Wildlife Conservation Society, based in Flores, Peten Guatemala and other institutions including the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP), Environmental Justice Forum of Peten and Asociacion Balam on a three year project titled, “Bi-national Collaboration to Eradicate Wildlife Trafficking in Belize and Guatemala.” By the end of the project it is expected that Belize and Guatemala governments will demonstrate an improved capacity and collaboration to eradicate cross-frontier wildlife trafficking in the Chiquibul-Maya Mountains ecoregion, through strengthened intelligence, law enforcement and prosecution, and improved awareness to deter trade in highly endangered psittacines,

  • while Civil Society Organizations mobilize improved coordination between governments by supporting national, bilateral, and multilateral initiatives that protect emblematic species, conserve natural resources, and propel economic alternatives for rural communities on targeted wildlife trade routes. This project is aimed at the Chiquibul National Park (CNP) in Belize, and the Maya Mountains-Chiquibul Biosphere Reserve (MMCBR) in Guatemala. Over 80% of the MMCBR has been decimated by colonization and agricultural expansion, and 1/5th of its population directly impacts Belizean protected areas due to inadequate economic alternatives and weak law enforcement. Rural community members increasingly fall prey to organized criminal networks “mining” natural resources from Belize for sale in Guatemala. 

  • This aim of the project is to eradicate rampant scarlet macaw and wildlife trafficking across the Belize-Guatemala border by addressing five main challenges:

    1. Inadequate species protection in Belize;
    2. Ineffective prosecution of species trafficking in Guatemala;
    3. Lack of bi-national cooperation;
    4.  Anaemic investment in legal economic alternatives for rural Guatemalan communities adjacent to Belize; and
    5. Lack of awareness among Guatemalans regarding the impact of wildlife trafficking on endangered species like the scarlet macaw.
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    It is hoped that this bi-national project will test successful scalable models for addressing the increasingly problematic challenge of illegal wildlife trade in Latin America. Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) has a co-management agreement with the Belize government to protect the Chiquibul National Park, Belize’s largest protected area. FCD undertakes community outreach and environmental education, protection, and biological research and monitoring. They lead national efforts to raise awareness regarding the plight of the Chiquibul forest, particularly with respect to the plundering of endangered species and natural resources. FCD has pioneered partnerships with Guatemalan CSOs and mayors of adjacent municipalities in Guatemala. In 2013 and 2014, FCD implemented a pilot program funded by USDOI-ITAP and WCS to monitor the nesting success of scarlet macaws in CNP.

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    With the support of DFID/DEFRA Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund and WCS