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Belize Forest Department Warns about Safe Wildlife Tourism Encounters

In the past months, the Belize Forest Department has received alarming reports of crocodiles being directly and indirectly fed as well as being molested for purposes of tourism attraction.

We hereby remind the public, tour operators and businesses that per the WILDLIFE PROTECTION ACT (CAP 220), “No person shall HUNT or ATTEMPT TO HUNT (defined as kill, take or molest by any means) any species of wildlife set out in the Schedule”. Both species of crocodiles in Belize are listed under the aforementioned Schedule. It is, therefore, illegal to kill, capture, feed, pet, or otherwise interfere with any crocodile or its eggs. It is also illegal to be in possession of any crocodile parts such as skin, meat and/or teeth. It is also illegal to carry out any form of trade of any crocodile or crocodile parts.

The direct and indirect feeding of crocodiles is a dangerous practice as it increases the risk of crocodiles becoming accustomed to human interactions and relating people with food. This can result in unfortunate injuries to humans or domestic animals. Indirect feeding of crocodiles includes practices such as throwing food scraps or any other form of garbage in areas where crocodiles are known to be present.

Tours conducted in various parts of the country come in contact with wildlife, including crocodiles, which are a big part of tourism in Belize; however, proper and safe practices must be observed. Whenever wildlife is encountered during a tour, it is important to keep a safe distance and avoid feeding or removing wildlife. Direct contact with wildlife, such as touching, is a dangerous practice and can lead to injury. Photographs may be taken.

The Belize Forest Department will continue to respond to these reported cases and requests the assistance of the public in reporting any wildlife crimes. You can contact the Department at telephone number 822-1524 or visit our offices in the City of Belmopan, Orange Walk Town, San Ignacio Town, as well as at the Mountain Pine Ridge, Savannah, and Machaca Forest Stations.

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