The Flora and Fauna in Belize
Belize is a true natural paradise with more than a third of the country set aside as a protected natural park, animal refuge, or wilderness sanctuary. Although Belize is a small country, it has more than 4,000 different species of flowering plants, 700 species of trees, 500 species of birds, and dozens of unique mammals, including monkeys, jaguars, manatees, and crocodiles.
The earliest European settlers in Belize came to the country because of the rich variety of valuable hardwoods, including mahogany, logwood, and chicle. Indeed, the national tree of Belize is the mahogany and the national flag depicts a logger.
Today, Belize has implemented strong conservation measures to protect its forests, including enormous parks like the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve and the Cockscomb Basin Nature Reserve.
The national flower of Belize is the black orchid, and the country is home to more than 250 species of orchids and related bromeliads.
Agricultural products grown in Belize include cashews, coconuts, custard apples, bananas, mangos, papayas, pineapples, and other exotic tropical fruits. Belize also has a strong tradition of using indigenous plants for medicinal purposes, including recipes developed by the ancient Maya more than 2,000 years ago.
Perhaps more famous than the flora are Belize’s wide variety of different mammals, including five big cat species. The most iconic indigenous big cat in Belize is the jaguar, once revered by the ancient Maya as the supreme jungle deity. Today, Belize is home to the only dedicated jaguar preserve in the world.
Belize is also home to black howler monkeys, locally known as “baboons.” Belize has worked hand in hand with the local population to create sanctuaries for black howler monkeys, one of the reasons why population numbers in Belize have grown when they are falling elsewhere in Central America.
Belize’s national animal is Baird’s tapir, a large rodent animal known locally as the “mountain cow.” Classified as endangered, Belize is home to more tapirs than anywhere else in Central America.
Another iconic endangered mammal in Belize is the manatee. These playful creatures thrive in the waters of Belize, and there are more manatees in Belize than anywhere else in the world except for the southern United States.
Barefoot Services and Rentals is a locally-owned and operated company offering vehicles, motor bikes, and golf carts so that visitors can explore Belize’s unique flora and fauna at their own pace.