Guatemalan Poachers pressure Wildlife in Chiquibul Print E-mail
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Thursday, 30 May 2013 00:00

Remains of Keel Bill Toucan and Crested GuansThe Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) has released its findings from  research focusing on the effects of poaching on game species in the Chiquibul Forest. According to FCD, “Guatemalan xateros and poachers have been penetrating deeper and deeper into Belizean wilderness areas and they pose the highest threat to the population of species.”

From the month of October 2012 to March 2013, a four-man team from FCD conducted its research along 12 transects, covering a total of 384 km, including the Caracol Archaeological Reserve. The aim of the study was to determine the diversity of terrestrial game species; calculate the relative abundance of each game species recorded and; evaluate the impact of illegal hunting on the relative abundance of targeted species.

During the research, a total of 1,022 individuals of 24 different species were recorded where the most abundant species were squirrels, quash, collared peccary, crested guans, and keel-billed toucans. The study revealed that abundance of game species from the western border to the interior of the study area was even, meaning that more than likely, game species are targeted throughout the entire Chiquibul forest, and are impacted by poaching, independent of how far these are from the border. The research also concludes that hunters have been targeting large-bodied species, leading to a severe reduction on abundance of targeted species and have begun to target smaller individuals as well as non-traditional game species such as the keel-billed toucan.

According to the FCD, poaching is fast becoming a lucrative activity not only for subsistence but for commercial purposes. This is confirmed through records made of Guatemalan nationals being detained with up to 15 game birds. The increase in xate extraction, milpa farming and illegal logging has caused poaching to become more prevalent as well. To address this problem, FCD recommends an increase in vigilance of regulatory agencies and enforcement elements so that they can counteract the illegal xate extraction, expansion of the human footprint and illegal logging.