Community Baboon Sanctuary
The Community Baboon Sanctuary is located almost thirty miles from Belize City, and is possibly one of the most successful stories in wildlife conservation in the region. The Community Baboon Sanctuary was founded in 1985 with the purpose of protecting one of the few remaining healthy populations of black howler monkeys in Central America. The sanctuary got its name because locals called them baboons. What makes this sanctuary unique is the fact that it is a grassroots conservation program managed by the landowners of about eight villages that make up this area.
Through sustainable land use practices and voluntary cooperation, the members of this community are ensuring the future of the black howler monkey habitat in Belize. This, in turn, has created economic benefits for the people in the form of increased tourism activities in the area. Because this model has been so highly successful in Belize, other countries in the region are already adopting it in their conservation efforts.
Upon arrival to the village of Bermudian Landing, you will likely be welcomed by a guide at the museum and visitor’s center. Here, you are asked to register and pay a small entrance fee. Although you can venture onto the trails on your own, it is recommended that you arrange for a guide since he or she will be able to make the most of your visit by taking you to the places where you are more likely to spot a howler monkey troop. It is certainly a privilege to encounter this endangered species in its natural habitat.
Morning is the best time to catch a glimpse of the “baboon” as it is commonly called in Belize. Mr. Fallet Young is one of the most experienced guides at the Baboon Sanctuary, and you may be lucky enough to have him accompany you as you go in search of this magnificent primate. After a short walk, you will begin to hear the distinctive rasping howls. Black howler monkeys typically live in troops of 4 to 12 individuals headed by a territorial and very protective dominant male. They are strictly vegetarian and like all primates use their hands to feed.
Once the troop comes into sight, you will notice the male howler responsible for the loud sounds. It is also likely that you will spot a female, possibly carrying her young, while others play in nearby branches. Carefully offering fruit will allow for a closer look. Even though they are accustomed to visitors, it is not recommended that you do this without the supervision of a guide. They are unpredictable wild animals that must be treated with respect and caution. Be on the lookout for sightings of other animals as well. After your visit you can stop by the restaurant near the visitor’s center for a refreshing drink and a tasty Belizean meal. This visit offers the perfect opportunity to experience rural life in Belize.