In the footsteps of the howler monkeys in Belize

We spent some time on one island named Caye Caulker. In recent years it has become a famous destination for backpackers. The rhythm of life here is slow … And the atmosphere is  very… rastafarian.

Many people smoke ganja and everyday dealers propose to sell some to me. Even in the middle of busy streets and not far from policemen in uniform. The drug consumption does not seem to bother many people here.

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Our snorkelling trip was literally a breath of fresh air and made me say that the best place to stay in Belize is under the sea.

After Caye Caulker we spend a few days in Belize city and we organize a visit to the Community Baboon Sanctuary to observe howler monkeys in their natural habitat. According to the information we get onlinee, the center seems to be matching the mission statement of worldresearchers.com

Howler monkeys were reintroduced here 25 years ago. Scientific research on their habitat, behavior or dietary and social habits is regularly conducted. In addition, grants for women’s entrepreneurship are awarded by the Community Baboon Sanctuary Women’s Conservation Group. Therefore we had to visit the Baboon Sanctuary.

We arrived in the early afternoon after more than 1h30 of bus in the middle of the countryside. Unfortunately, the visit was botched by an employee in a hurry to return to her afternoon nap (with these high temperatures, we can understand). However it was with some emotion that I walked in the footsteps of those researchers who spent more than one year of their life here to conduct their work. In the middle of the Belizean forest, with my eyes scrutinizing the canopy looking for its inhabitants, I imagine the enormous work and infinite patience of a single study.

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An example among others, you can find here the fruit of one year of study on site. This study describes the eating habits of howler monkeys. It was directed by Scott Silver, Ostro Linde, Yeager and Robert Horwich.

They observed in parallel the climate, the precipitation, the vegetation, the abundance of the food already known to be consumed by the monkeys and of course the behaviour of the monkeys.

To summarize this long-term work, they observed that the monkeys in great specialists of the flora surrounding them have a preference for the leaves of Ficus and have a varied diet as observed in other populations of howler monkeys in Guatemala. This implies that the colonization of new land by this species should be facilitated.

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Howler monkey: diet comosition. Figure from: Feeding ecology of the black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra) in Northern Belizeune, Volume 45, Issue 3, 1998, Pages: 263–279, S. C. Silver, L. E. T. Ostro, C. P. Yeager and R. Horwich. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PRIMATOLOGY

On average, the monkeys spent 24.4% of their time feeding, 61.9% of the time sleeping and 9.8% of the time traveling.

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When, in the middle of the afternoon, we crossed the road of a family of these monkeys and heard their specific sound, the study I mentioned came to life and became something real, not only statistics and numbers on figures. The meeting with the howler monkeys was truly fascinating.

But already he had to leave. To go away from this contemplation of nature and to return to Belize city. The way back was long. The town do not propose interesting activities and we do not feel safe there. It is without regret that we leave Belize for Costa Rica, but at least with these two encounters with a magnificent nature: the heart of the reef and the heart of the forest will remain in our memories.

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