Part of the excitement of living in a tropical country is getting the opportunity to meet all the wonderful inhabitants that call this majestic ecosystem home. The rainforest is rich in biodiversity and the forests of Belize are no exception. So, shall we go for a jaunt in the jungle?
From birds, to bats, to bees… this forest has it all. By day toucans sing amongst the canopy and by night you can fall asleep to the chorus of frogs. On this particular evening I set out for a stroll to see what was out and about. Part of my work in Belize is to train interns about tropical ecology survey methodology as well as the identification of neotropical organisms, so tonight I was joined by an individual who is creating a project to work with amphibians. So into the woods we go!
So many mud turtles. We found three individuals tonight (quite turtlely indeed, if you ask me) and as the name implies, they like to bury themselves in the mud that resides at the bottom of rivers, ponds, and streams. They’re quite a funky little turtle too, and not in the good P-F-U-N-K kinda way, but in the WOW. This turtle REALLY smells like a rotten piece of meat. Despite their funkity funk funk, they are quite adorable.
It was not long before we found some frogs. The first amphibian of the evening was this Rain Frog, Craugastor sabrinus. This species is threatened in Belize by habitat loss, so it is great to see a thriving population at TREES.
We found a few Vaillant Frogs, Lithobates vaillanti. They are quite ubiquitous, but never do they cease to me amaze me with their beautiful coloration.
We observed some baby hummingbird action and later we were privileged to meet a few magnificent mammals; an opossum, a kinkajou, and then this creature…
Unfortunately I am lacking photographic evidence, but this was quite a monumental experience for me. Of the eight years I have been traveling to Central America, I have never once observed a big cat in the wild. This particular individual was crossing a limb to my right and I may have not seen it, but my torch caught its neon-orange eye shine. Upon discovery, the ocelot turned, and in a flash of spots, it vanished into the night. It was then, as quickly as it was first observed, the cat was gone.
Now that is a good way to end an evening in rainforest.