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Rainwater T.R.,Medical University of South Carolina | Rainwater T.R.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Pop T.,Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education BFREE | Cal O.,YaAxche Conservation Trust | And 3 more authors.
Chelonian Conservation and Biology | Year: 2012

The Central American river turtle (Dermatemys mawii) is a large Critically Endangered freshwater turtle historically found in the coastal lowlands of southern Mexico, northern Guatemala, and Belize. Due to years of intense harvesting for its meat, D. mawii has been virtually eliminated from much of its former range in southern Mexico, while its status in Guatemala remains unclear. During April and May 2010, we conducted a countrywide survey in Belize to assess the current conservation status of D. mawii in what is believed to be its last stronghold. We surveyed approximately 30 localities from deep southern to extreme northern Belize, including 17 areas previously surveyed during the early 1980s and 1990s. Results indicate D. mawii is heavily depleted in most of Belize, but healthy populations remain in a few remote areas (including multiple, previously unsurveyed localities in southern Belize), especially those receiving some level of protection. While this mirrors the trend observed in previous surveys, the current findings are of particular concern because the number of localities where turtles were observed and the number of turtles observed at these localities were both much reduced compared to earlier surveys. Large turtles (reproductive adults) continue to be targeted during harvests, significantly reducing the most demographically important segment of the population. Further, interviews with fishermen and hunters indicate that laws and regulations enacted for the protection of D. mawii are largely ignored by locals, as broad-scale enforcement is difficult or impossible to achieve. In this paper, we discuss survey results in the context of previous investigations, describe levels and sources of exploitation, and provide conservation recommendations. © 2012 Chelonian Research Foundation.

Rotenberg J.A.,University of North Carolina at Wilmington | Marlin J.A.,Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education BFREE | Pop L.,Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education BFREE | Garcia W.,Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education BFREE
Wilson Journal of Ornithology | Year: 2012

We present the first description of a breeding record of the Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) in Belize, and describe the subsequent fledging of the juvenile. We discovered the nest on 27 November 2010 with a single 4-5 week-old chick, and began focal observations. The juvenile spent 56.3% of 71 observation days feeding, and the parents delivered food to the nest at a rate of one item every 2.04-3.33 days from late January to April. The most frequent food items were the common opossum (Didelphis marsupialis), white-nosed coatimundi (Nasua narica), and Yucatan black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra). We placed a satellite GPS-PPT transmitter on the juvenile Harpy Eagle on 14 April 2011 to track its movement patterns after fledging. Soon after, the parents stopped returning to the nest, the juvenile fledged, and for 28 days we delivered food to the young eagle in place of its parents. The abandonment of the juvenile by the parents may have been caused by low food abundance caused by drought conditions and/or placement of the transmitter may have had a role. The male subsequently returned to feed the juvenile. We believe these eagles represent one of the northernmost known extant breeding pairs of Harpy Eagles in the Americas. © 2012 by the Wilson Ornithological Society.

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