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The Baboon Sanctuary

Local area farmers and riverside villages have created an 18 square mile reserve to protect Black Howler monkeys ....

The Baboon Sanctuary is located 35 miles northwest of Belize City and is a unique conservation effort bringing together 8 villages to protect the population and habitat of Belize's Black Howler Monkey, affectionately called "baboons" by the locals.

The sanctuary consists of approximately 20 square miles along the Belize River and embodies a combination of dense jungle, pasture, farmland, and small village life.

The Black Howler Monkey is the largest monkey in the Americas and is found only in small sections of Central America. Black Howlers have an infamous howl, a deep resonating and raspy cat like roar that can be heard for over a mile.

Because of community-based efforts to preserve Black Howler Monkeys, there are more than 1,500 individuals waiting to be spotted and photographed by curious travelers.

Another result is the unhindered growth of 100 species of trees, vines, and epiphytes. The animal life is thriving as well—anteaters, armadillos, iguanas, Hicatee turtles, deer, coati, amphibians, reptiles, and around 200 species of birds live here. Among these are Squirrel cuckoos, Black-throated Bobwhite, Quails, Hook-billed kites, Plumbeous kites, Acorn Woodpecker along with Gray and Black Hawks.

Special trails are cut through the forest
so that visitors can see it all at it's best. And there are enough trails, rivers, and guided tours to keep you busy here for a couple of days.

It’s always a thrill to watch the bright-eyed black monkey as it sits within five feet of you on a wild-lime tree branch, happily munching the leaves. They seem to know they’re protected here.

Tours last 60 minutes, enough time to experience a Close Encounter with a Black Howler. Guided canoe or boat trips are a good way to further experience monkeys, birds, and other wildlife that inhabit the area. There is also a small informative natural history museum at the visitors' center.  A jungle exhibit demonstrates the interesting facts and features of the area.

A lively debate continues among traditional conservationists about allowing people to live within a wildlife preserve. However, the success of this program has led to the relocation of troops of the howlers into other areas of Belize where previous populations have been diminished by hunting or diseases.

A variety of other mammals can be found in the reserve area including, Coati, Gibnut, Jaguarundi, and the Baird's Tapir. Reptiles include Morelet's Crocodile, Iguana and the Central American River Turtle. Occasionally white tailed deer can be seen in the pine oak forests.

In short, this grassroots conservation is proving that it can succeed.
Don't forget your binoculars!

Getting to the Baboon Sanctuary ....

Guided tours from Ambergris Caye and
Caye Caulker travel up the North River through mangrove channels for 30 to 40 minutes before arriving at the small village of Bomba. A short stop is taken to admire some of the local carvings before heading for the Maya Archeological site, Altun Ha.

After visiting the site, tours continue up the Belize River for a stop at the Community Baboon Sanctuary


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