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Howlers, Toucans and Kinkajous, Oh My!

July 24, 2013
Jason explaining Leaf hoppers and ants

Jason explaining the relationship between leaf hoppers and ants

Arriving at the Raleigh-Durham airport at 5am, we did not know the spectacular day that awaited us. Two short flights later we arrived in Belize, and after meeting our Belizean teachers Yolanda and Consuelo, and our guide Nathan Forbes and bus driver Bruce, we hit the ground running.

First stop was the Community Baboon Sanctuary. This one-of-a-kind  area was created by landowners voluntarily leaving forested areas for habitat and specific food plants for the Black Howler Monkeys. We were treated to an excellent lunch before heading down the trail. Our Guide, Ger, was amazing. There did not appear to be a plant that she could not name and identify its medicinal qualities. From sensitive Mimosas to Split-leaf Philodrendron to Cohune Palms to tattoo ferns, our  minds were racing to absorb all  the information. We enjoyed watching the leaf cutter ants carrying their leaf bits back to their nest, and learning more about how that community cooperates. We spent a long time watching a small troop of Howler Monkeys. They were eating mango and working their way through the tree. We got to hear the dominant male call, and watched one monkey devour his entire fruit while hanging from his tail

Black Howler Monkey

A Black Howler Monkey takes a break from eating mangoes

We headed down the highway, passing Hattieville which was named after Hurricane Hattie because it was the first piece of dry land after that hurricane struck. On the way to duPlooys Lodge we saw both Keel-billed Toucans and Aracari Toucans. The Lodge and its Botanical Gardens are beautiful, and we quickly settled into our rooms so we could meet on the deck before dinner. We had to take a break from the meeting however when two Kinkjous made there way down to the deck. some people were lucky enough to get to hand them a piece of banana. We hope we get another chance tomorrow evening!

A delicious dinner with lots of laughter, followed by a short walk back to our rooms, and suddenly our early morning caught up with us. We look forward to our walk first thing in the morning and can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Delaney Fischer permalink
    July 24, 2013 9:11 am

    I am completely jealous and wish I were there! I am interested to know what the tattoo fern is! I tried to google it and only found pictures of tattoos that were of ferns (not very educational). Also, the pictures are absolutely beautiful! I am so excited to see more!

    • lizbaird permalink
      July 24, 2013 11:10 pm

      The fern tattoos were the result of spores on the underside of the leaves. We will post a photo of what the “tattoo” looks like on our arms.

  2. July 24, 2013 9:19 am

    Hoorah! Glad you got off to such an excellent start. Do you think you’ll get a chance to see a peanut bug?

    • lizbaird permalink
      July 25, 2013 11:32 pm

      We keep looking for a peanut head bug but have not found one yet…. did find an Onychophora which was so cool!

  3. The Hasund Family permalink
    July 25, 2013 7:08 am

    Ms. Cochrane, it looks beautiful there – similiar to Costa Rica. Did the howler monkey’s scare you? It would awaken us up every morning and we thought we were being attack by wild dogs. 🙂 We did not see any kinkajous in Costa Rica. Are they common in Belize? The tattoo fern looks interesting. We wish you could bring some back to NC. 🙂 Have a great trip and we are enjoying reading your blog.

    • lizbaird permalink
      July 25, 2013 11:24 pm

      Kinkajous are in the raccoon family. They feed on fruit, mainly figs, and insects. In the dry season they will drink flower nectar. According to Emmons’ Neotropical Rainforest Mammals Field Guide they are throughout Central and South America. We were lucky enough to see two kinkajous again this evening. We can say with certainty that they are common at Duplooy’s Lodge.

    • lizbaird permalink
      July 25, 2013 11:27 pm

      And we asked Ms. Cochrane whether she was scared of the Howler Monkeys and she said not at all – she thought they were intriguing!

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