SW Team conducted a second visit to the Chiquibul National park, Belize, Central America.
This was in support of the “Heart of Belize” project, which we launched 2 years ago.
The Friends for Conservation and Development Rangers have the task to help protect an area of a quarter of a million hectares of rain forest, known as the Chiquibul National park, which is in the western part of Belize. You will remember that they face cross border issues from Guatemalan criminal gangs known as Xateros, who are exploiting the forest for illegal activities, such as logging of cedar and mahogany and exploitation and removal of xate a type of 'fish-tailed' shape palm leaf, which is used in flower arranging around the world. They face illegal farming activities along the border and gold mining in the jungle streams in the high Maya mountain ranges. The native wildlife species such as peccary, tapir, jaguars and pumas are under threat along with a very rapidly declining population of the rare and beautiful scarlet macaw. These and many other species are under threat from illegal activities from gangs, who either kill and eat them for bush meat, or sell them to the pet trade in Guatemala and Mexico.
The SW Team were asked to go out to Belize to monitor and assist with FCD’s training, for Specialized Tactical Rescue Medics Course. The course gives the rangers the ability to apply technical 'far from help” medical skills in support of their patrols; or as search and rescue teams within the National Park for expeditions and ecotourism.
What started out as observation, turned into training support and we were glad to be on hand to provide our experience and skills in subjects such as safety and survival, trauma medical skills, navigation, skill at arms and tactics.
The rangers and other course participants from the forestry service, archaeology department, and the Belize search and rescue teams performed extremely well and enjoyed the training immensely.
At the end of the course, I presented a silk map kindly donated by David Overton from SplashMaps.net.
The map is of the Chiquibul National Park and it has the Friends For Conservation and Development name printed on the top. Rafael was extremely happy for our contribution to the course and the gift! He presented the team with a trophy made from cedar, salvaged from illegally cut timber from the Chiquibul. It features a hand carved Chiquibul National Park emblem, made of locally found slate.
The project is now increasing in momentum, and in the next few months we will keep you all posted on more exciting developments, with the Survival Wisdom involvement, in the program conceived to help protect this incredible landscape.