Caracol: Avoiding violent robbery, getting mauled by a dog, and spreading the message of amphibian conservation!

From California to Germany, I have given presentations around the world. When I travel somewhere I will always make an effort to speak about amphibian conservation to the local community. So when I came back to Belize this summer I set up a few talks during my stay. Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak to a group of international students at the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic. This clinic is the only wildlife vet clinic in Belize and their dedication to wildlife conservation is quite remarkable.

Belize Wildlife and Referrel Clinic, Belize, Cayo, Central Farm, Caracol, Maya, Mayan Ruins, Maya Monuments, Frogs, Iguana, Bats, Central American Wildlife

Belize Wildlife and Referrel Clinic, Belize, Cayo, Central Farm, Caracol, Maya, Mayan Ruins, Maya Monuments, Frogs, Iguana, Bats, Central American Wildlife

Photo: Dave Wyatt

Later that evening in San Ignacio I spoke to over 100 members of the Cayo Tour Guide Association about the status of amphibian conservation in Belize. Tour guides play an important role in conservation efforts because they interact with tourists and therefore it is critical these guides appreciate amphibians and understand that they are going extinct so they can relate this message to an international audience.

Belize Wildlife and Referrel Clinic, Belize, Cayo, Central Farm, Caracol, Maya, Mayan Ruins, Maya Monuments, Frogs, Iguana, Bats, Central American Wildlife

My presentation was quite well received and the guides greatly enjoyed the experience.

Belize Wildlife and Referrel Clinic, Belize, Cayo, Central Farm, Caracol, Maya, Mayan Ruins, Maya Monuments, Frogs, Iguana, Bats, Central American Wildlife

Photo: Dave Wyatt

Besides giving talks, I have had some time to look for wildlife. We spotted this hansom fellow outside the venue of one of the presentations. It is called a Black Spiny-tailed Iguana, Ctenosaura similis. In Belize they call it the Wish-willy. I have no idea why, but it’s a freaking cool name.

Belize Wildlife and Referrel Clinic, Belize, Cayo, Central Farm, Caracol, Maya, Mayan Ruins, Maya Monuments, Frogs, Iguana, Bats, Central American Wildlife

The next day we traveled to the Mayan city of Caracol. This is one of the largest Mayan cities in Central America and at one time the population was roughly 150,000. Getting to the site is quite interesting because you have to drive on 37 miles of bumpy, rocky roads along the Guatemalan border. You are advised to not travel alone because within the last few years there have been violent, armed robberies that have occurred on the road to Caracol. In order to meet the military convey to be escorted to the site we would have to wake up at 6am… and that’s just not going to happen. We took our chances. We brought the frog swag to the site and flew the flag.

Belize Wildlife and Referrel Clinic, Belize, Cayo, Central Farm, Caracol, Maya, Mayan Ruins, Maya Monuments, Frogs, Iguana, Bats, Central American Wildlife

Caracol is amazing and if you ever have a chance to visit it: DO IT. The restoration of the site is truly incredible.

Belize Wildlife and Referrel Clinic, Belize, Cayo, Central Farm, Caracol, Maya, Mayan Ruins, Maya Monuments, Frogs, Iguana, Bats, Central American Wildlife

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Photo: Dave Wyatt

Where there are monuments, there are bats! We found this huge Golden Bat, Mimon bennettii, roosting inside one of the pyramid’s chambers. They like to eat birds and frogs! So cool!

Belize Wildlife and Referrel Clinic, Belize, Cayo, Central Farm, Caracol, Maya, Mayan Ruins, Maya Monuments, Frogs, Iguana, Bats, Central American Wildlife

We were caught in a rainstorm at the top of the pyramid, but when it cleared the view was spectacular. Howler Monkeys started roaring in excitement as the clouds moved on.

Belize Wildlife and Referrel Clinic, Belize, Cayo, Central Farm, Caracol, Maya, Mayan Ruins, Maya Monuments, Frogs, Iguana, Bats, Central American Wildlife

We jammed on some bamboo flute to celebrate the moment. Not many people can say they played a bamboo flute on top of a thousand year old pyramid in Central America.

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Photo: Dave Wyatt… awesome photo, right?

Birds were abundant in the area and we observed a few Keel-billed Toucans bouncing from tree top to tree top.

Belize Wildlife and Referrel Clinic, Belize, Cayo, Central Farm, Caracol, Maya, Mayan Ruins, Maya Monuments, Frogs, Iguana, Bats, Central American Wildlife

The rain brought out the frogs too! We found this gorgeous Mexican Tree Frog, Smilisca baudinii, hanging out in the leaf litter on the forest floor.

Belize Wildlife and Referrel Clinic, Belize, Cayo, Central Farm, Caracol, Maya, Mayan Ruins, Maya Monuments, Frogs, Iguana, Bats, Central American Wildlife

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Photo: Dave Wyatt

During our time at Caracol we were accompanied by a dog who liked to bite. Here she is going for my arm! Our relationship started off on a rough start, but we quickly became friends. She is just a playful pup!

Caracol

Photo: Dave Wyatt

She hung out with us for the rest of the day while we explored the site.

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Photo: Dave Wyatt

So how to conclude such a day?  Twirling glowpoi underneath the stars in a tropical rainforest… Just another day in Belize.

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Photo: Dave Wyatt

More adventures to come!

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2 thoughts on “Caracol: Avoiding violent robbery, getting mauled by a dog, and spreading the message of amphibian conservation!

  1. Hey Mikey! The picture of the bat is upside down!:). Lol

    Enjoyed the post.

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Loved the article and your photos! We visited Caracol in April of this year and met the same dog… apparently she belongs to one of the guards. 🙂

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