NEEP reaches out to Belize, southern Mexico, and Guatemala
Sean Davis— 6 March 2007 — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program ShareThe Neotropical Environmental Education Program (NEEP) for Latin America and the Caribbean is based in Panama. The majority of our work is within Panama, however, on occasion our services are needed in other parts of Latin America, and such was the case in early January 2007. As many of you already know, the Harpy Eagle Propagation Program has been releasing captive bred Harpy Eagles back into the wild in a remote area in northwestern Belize. All of the birds that are released are equipped with satellite transmitters so we can monitor their movements and dispersal patterns. The birds are released in a heavily forested area that connects with the Peten Forest that extends into Guatemala and southern Mexico. A few of these birds have covered distances much greater than expected while exploring their new home. With the hope of ensuring a safer future for these birds through community education, NEEP embarked on a journey to Belize, Guatemala, and southern Mexico.
We arrived in Belize early enough to visit with Sharon Matola the director of the Belize Zoo. The Belize Zoo is our counterpart in Belize for Raptor Environmental Education. They have two Harpy Eagles on display at the zoo as well as a community outreach program that works with schools all over the country. We exchanged environmental education (EE) materials and ideas on projects we are both currently working on. It was a beneficial meeting for both parties as it’s always good to share ideas with organizations that have similar interests and goals.
Over the next three days we gave presentations in seven communities to a total of 312 adults and 129 children. We worked closely with CONAP and PRONATURA and left them a lot of materials and Power Point presentations to continue working in the communities in the area. We also set up an interview with the local radio station where we discussed The Peregrine Fund, Harpy Eagles, and why we were in the area. The radio program, that has a listening base of 10,000 people, was going to be translated into Chol and Mayan the two local indigenous languages.
The trip was a great success. Not only did we make important contacts, but we were able to get information out to people who might come in direct contact with one of our released Harpy Eagles. Information that will hopefully bring out positive actions to ensure a safer future for these large forest raptors in their new home.
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