Friday, June 14, 2024

Management plan for Bacalar Chico still in the works; illegal hunting continues


Concerned residents and conservationists in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, continue to report illegal activities, such as hunting, at the terrestrial portion of the Bacalar Chico National Park in the island’s northern part. According to reports, the wildlife at this park (deer, peccaries, etc.) is under constant threat, particularly on weekends. There are reportedly no park rangers to safeguard the surrounding natural habitats, and thus, there is reported abuse of the protected area. With the Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD) taking control of the co-management of Bacalar Chico in March of this year, changes were expected to occur. The SACD has indicated that changes are coming as they continue developing a management plan for the site and begin having a partial presence by December of this year.

A representative of SACD shared that as part of the management plan, a site manager and rangers will be hired to look after the area. They also expressed concerns about the reported illegal activities at the national park, such as hunting and logging. However, they explained that a process is taking place which involves engaging Ambergris Caye residents in reporting and helping in the management of Bacalar Chico. Another development the co-management agency is working on is assisting in creating an advisory committee composed of San Pedro residents. “When we have both the advisory committee and management plan completed, we will be able to begin conducting enforcement in the protected area,” SACD said. Funding is needed to start moving this campaign forward, and SACD confirmed that the financial component of the project has been successfully secured. SACD emphasized that once all necessary steps are taken, there will be a full-time presence at Bacalar Chico, and they will work to take care of the park and its wildlife, including deer, peccaries, and the majestic jaguar.

Established in 1996, the Bacalar Chico National Park also includes a marine reserve which the Belize Fisheries Department manages. This entire protected area is a World Heritage Site. Its marine portion is not exempt from the abuses of illicit activities, as illegal fishing and the erection of unapproved structures are some challenges affecting the marine reserve.

A group advocating for the protection of this national park is the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development (ACCSD). They stated that the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve is an essential natural asset to the community of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. The ACCSD highlighted that the beaches along the coast of this protected area are also significant nesting sites for sea turtles. However, it continues to be threatened by illegal infrastructure development and hunting. They hope the management plan is implemented promptly before it is too late.

SACD looks forward to working closely with the other organizations on the island, such as the San Pedro Police Formation, ACCSD, and the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, to mention a few. SACD is a non-governmental organization located in Sarteneja, a traditional fishing village in the northern Corozal District. They promote the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources to benefit present and future generations. SACD also co-manages the Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary alongside the Belize Forestry Department.

Read more


Please help support Local Journalism in Belize

For the first time in the history of the island's community newspaper, The San Pedro Sun is appealing to their thousands of readers to help support the paper during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 1991 we have tirelessly provided vital local and national news. Now, more than ever, our community depends on us for trustworthy reporting, but our hard work comes with a cost. We need your support to keep delivering the news you rely on each and every day. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Please support us by making a contribution.

Local News