BELIZE CITY, Wed. Jan. 28, 2015–The scarlet macaw (Ara macao cyanoptera) is endangered in Belize due to poaching, mostly by Guatemalans. According to the 2014 nesting report produced by Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), the Chiquibul Forest is the key foraging and breeding habitat for the scarlet macaw, and the organization’s executive director, Rafael Manzanero, who says there are only about 100 pairs of the special birds left in Belize, is traveling to Taiwan for a week on a mission to get funding for projects to protect them.
Taiwan’s Ambassador to Belize, H.E. Benjamin Ho, said that when he met Manzanero, he was very impressed by his conservation work.
“I was so touched by what he shared that I arranged a visit for him to meet counterparts in Taiwan,” the Ambassador said.
Manzanero said that he is grateful to the Taiwan Embassy in Belize for the opportunity to undertake the 5-day mission. He explained that his objective is twofold: first, he will meet with conservation NGO’s and other institutions to highlight the FCD’s work in the Chiquibul and the Maya Mountains, and second, he will seek financial support for scarlet macaw conservation.
The official itinerary provided to us by the embassy says that the visit will run from February 2-6, 2015. Manzanero is slated to meet on Monday with the Director of Dongshih Forest District Office, Lee Yanshou, at the Forestry Bureau, where he will provide a briefing on “protecting the bi-national Chiquibul Forest, Belize-Guatemala,” to an audience of just under 20 persons.
He is scheduled to deliver that same presentation to a smaller audience, which will include the Director-General of Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau, Lee Taosheng, as well as a second presentation on the Scarlet Macaw Conservation Project on Wednesday, February 4.
Ambassador Ho says that he encouraged Manzanero to submit a funding proposal to the Bureau in light of the FCD’s mission to conserve the macaw, because the Bureau offers grants to organizations in support of their conservation work.
Manzanero’s trip to Taiwan includes a number of nature trips, including a bird watching outing at the Dashueshan National Forest Recreation Area.
He will also visit Taiwan’s Wildlife Conservation Center at the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, as well as Bird World at the Taipei Zoo.
His final presentation on the Chiquibul will be presented on Friday afternoon to an audience of about 60 persons.
Ambassador Ho said that apart from pursuing government-to-government cooperation between Belize and Taiwan, he also promotes grassroots cooperation between agencies such as FCD and their Taiwan counterparts. He told us that Manzanero will travel to Taiwan as a wildlife ambassador for Belize.
The Ambassador said that conservation is a very important issue for his country. He stated that in the past, they have suffered from environmental degradation because of over-logging or over-development, and because of those experiences they have enacted laws to help protect their natural resources. He further noted that they place emphasis on awareness of environmental protection strategies.
Ambassador Ho said that even after huge parties with thousands of people are held in his home country, Taiwan, after the people go home no trash is left behind “because we know how to protect our environment.”