The British travel magazine Wanderlust recently published an article on some of the greatest wildlife experiences on land and sea in Belize. The article discussed just a tiny selection from the wide range of interesting marine and land animals that are found in Belize, including sharks, toucans, monkeys, and jaguars.
Coming in at top spot, to no one’s surprise, was the Central American jaguar. The largest big cat species in the Western Hemisphere, the jaguar was worshipped by the ancient Maya. In Belize, jaguars still roam the wild, preferring deep thickets of tropical rainforest where few humans go. Visitors will be hard pressed to spot a jaguar in the wild, but one can be visited at the Belize Zoo along with members of other big cat species in the country such as the ocelot and margay. The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary in southeastern Belize is home to the world’s only dedicated jaguar conservation project and is home to over 200 jaguars.
Another iconic animal of Belize featured in the Wanderlust article is the black howler monkey, known locally as a baboon. Living in large, noisy troops, the black howler monkey is famous for having one of the loudest cries in the world which can be heard up to three miles away even through thick jungle terrain. One of the best places to see black howler monkeys is at the Community Baboon Sanctuary (CBS), a unique conservation area composed of six different villages. Trained to protect the monkeys and preserve their habitat, the local villagers also serve as curators and guides. The CBS is also home to a wide variety of other indigenous life, including the rare Morelet’s crocodile, armadillos, parrots, and river turtles.
And no article on Belizean wildlife would be complete without a mention of the manatee, sometimes known as the sea cow. With a vegetarian diet, the manatees are some of the gentlest, most playful creatures in the sea, but their fondness for shallow waters often puts them at risk of damage by passing boats. Visitors interested in seeing manatees should visit the Placencia Lagoon in southern Belize.
If you’re an adventure junkie and want to explore nature sites in Belize that are off the beaten path, Barefoot also offers a wide variety of adventure tours, including fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving on the reef and hiking in places like the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.