Highlights — 20 June 2018 — by Albert J. Ciego
Chiquibul gets South Cebada Conservation Post

CHIQUIBUL, Cayo District, Fri. June 15, 2018– Friends of Conservation and Development (FCD), the organization that manages the Chiquibul National Park in collaboration with the Belize Defence Force, carries out long-range patrols in the forest of Chiquibul to stop Guatemalan farmers and poachers from carrying out illegal and destructive activities in the national park.

Among the many activities which are wreaking damage on the Chiquibul are clearing of lands for farming, illegal logging, grazing of cows and horses, looting of cultural artifacts and the stealing of exotic birds.

Yesterday, a patrol base known as the South Cebada Conservation Post, to be used by FCD rangers and soldiers of the Belize Defence Force conducting patrols and law enforcement in the Chiquibul, was inaugurated.

The conservation post at South Cebada is 20 feet by 33 feet in size and is designed to accommodate a 12-member patrol. Its main features include sleeping quarters, an outdoor kitchen, hygiene facilities, a water catchment system, a photovoltaic solar power system and an elevated lookout tower of 25 feet.

The addition of the two conservation posts, Cebada 1 and now Cebada 2, in the Chiquibul, means that there are now a total of 7 enforcement stations in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve and Bladen Nature Reserve. These stations form a robust network of permanent outposts in the Chiquibul Forest “geared towards biodiversity protection and security”.

The South Cebada Conservation Post was built through the Chiquibul Forest Investment Initiative (CFII) at a cost of BZ$115,000. The CFII was launched in 2016 and represents the single largest investment in the protection and conservation of Belize’s biodiversity.

FCD said that park rangers patrol the park and the 28-mile border between the Chiquibul National Park and Guatemala, but the lack of access roads on the Belize side makes the monitoring of the area very difficult.

Chiquibul is no place for the faint of heart. To get to Chiquibul, there is a 2- to 3-hour drive from San Ignacio to the Caracol Mayan site, and from Caracol, the hike begins. There is a 4-hour hike from Caracol to Sepote 1, and another 5-hour hike to South Cebada.

The hills are very challenging and the terrain rugged. A high degree of fitness and strong knees are requirements when venturing into Chiquibul. The new patrol base and outpost is most welcomed by the law enforcement officers conducting patrols in the rugged South Chiquibul.

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