Establishing the Central Belize Corridor
Since late 2009 the ERI has been working on the Large Mammal Corridor Project, a Darwin Initiative-funded collaborative project with the Forest Department, Panthera and the University Of Southampton (UK) aimed at establishing a wildlife corridor in Central Belize. A wildlife corridor connects to forested areas facilitating the movement of terrestrial animals, such as large mammals. A corridor allows for genetic mixing between populations ensuring the long-term persistence of wide-ranging species such as the jaguar. The Central Belize Corridor connects the northern block of protected forests in Belize (including the Rio Bravo) with the southern block, the Maya Mountain Massif.
The ERI’s Panthera Jaguar Research Fellow, Dr. Bart Harmsen, and Wildlife Biologist, Said Gutierrez, collect ecological data on the abundance of large predators such as jaguars, and the abundance and movement of important prey species such as pacas within the Central Belize Corridor. Tracking the movement of key mammals has allowed insight for the demarcation of the Central Belize Corridor. The proposed corridor includes both national and private lands ranging from the Gracie Rock area to Saint Matthew’s and also includes the recently established Labouring Creek Jaguar Wildlife Sanctuary. The Central Belize Corridor is a critical segment of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.The ERI and its partners are now also working on maintaining the effectiveness of the corridor by engaging private landowners so that development on their land is compatible with how the corridor functions.