UPDATE: Belize is Amazing!
3: Since I wrote last I have learned so much. Following our day at the zoo we had a lecture on Wildlife Research Methods, where we learned about different research approaches and the effects that they could have on the animals. We also learned that a lot of times species get overlooked for research, despite their important contributions to the ecosystem, because they aren’t good flagship species. There was also a lecture from the Crocodile Research Coalition (where we got to witness a necropsy for a tiny crocodile), and a lecture about Tapirs. The lecture about crocs was really cool, I learned that crocs have little organs in their skin called Integumentary Sensory Organs, which helps them to feel things in the water and to locate their prey. After our lecture on Tapirs, we go to do a fun exercise, where we tried to locate tracking collars that were placed around the education center using radio signals.
Later that night, we went on a night tour of the Belize Zoo, in order to observe animals that are nocturnal. During the tour we got to feed and give some good scratches to a Tapir names Indie, we gave some treats to the Kinkajou (he really loves bananas), and I held a snake for the first time ever!
2: The next day we had a lecture on mapping, and then we headed to Runaway Creek Nature Reserve. Here we set up a camera trap (a motion activated camera that takes pictures/videos without disturbing the animals), an we will check to see if we got any images a week later. The
camera traps are used to observe animals that we do not always get to see in their natural habitat, and what behaviors they exhibit. We also set up mist netting for when we band birds later in the week. After setting up we went on a Cave Hike, where we walked through the savannah and forest to explore some of Belize’s Caves. While walking we saw some Tapir and Puma prints! In the cave we reviewed a camera trap that had been in there a few months, and discovered some puma, ocelot, jaguar and bat activity. In another cave on the hike we saw the first discovered Mayan painting in Belize.
1: On the day of New Years Eve the first activity we did was go bird watching around the Tropical Education Center, which is a known birding hotspot. After we went to the zoo to do observations on an animal for two hours, and see what their typical behaviors. We also used this time to develop a systematic plan for recording behavioral data. While at the zoo I observed the
kinkajous, and although they are nocturnal animals they did move around a little bit while I was observing them. After the zoo observations, we had a small lecture on remote drug delivery, and then we practiced using blow darts on a watermelon. (Proud Mom Moment: Everyone in my group was able to get the dart in the watermelon at least once!).
At the end of the day, our group decided to start the new year off right, by going out to a local restaurant and singing some karaoke. It was a BLAST!
0: HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! New Year’s Day the class had the day off to do whatever they wanted. Most of us chose to do a really great cave tubing tour of one of the many cave systems in Belize.