Endangered Species in Belize

Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

According to the Chaa Creek Belize Travel Blog website, Belize is home to many species, including about 145 kinds of mammals, 139 species of amphibians and reptiles, 500 types of birds and 5,000 varieties of trees and plants. Many of each life form are now endangered due to deforestation, hunting and pollution.

Range of Landscapes, Plenty of Warmth

Belize is a Central American country about the size of Massachusetts. It lies east of Mexico and Guatemala, and borders the Caribbean Sea to its east. Belize's geographical landscape includes mountains, rivers and a large area of forest and jungle. Belize's varied environments and subtropical climate offer favorable natural habitats for a variety of animal and plant species, including several endangered types of turtles, frogs, birds, cats, fish, monkeys, iguanas, trees and other forms of life.

Marine Species

Several marine species in Belize are endangered, including the cubera snapper, highly desirable in culinary and sport arenas. Manatees face poaching, boat collisions, food loss and fishing-line entanglement. Belize crocodiles -- the American salt water and Morelet's crocodiles -- are endangered from habitat loss, hunting and killings as nuisance animals. Several turtles, including the loggerhead, green, hawksbill and Mesoamerican river turtles, are endangered from hunting and nesting loss, and are also killed for their decorative shells.

Birds

Ocellated turkeys, with their highly distinctive colors, live in Belize and neighboring Mexico and Guatemala. They are endangered due to excessive hunting and forest loss. The brown pelican, found in Belize, the United States and the West Indies, is on the endangered list as a result of a University of Tampa study. Their research found pesticides cause pelican eggshells to become too thin to support the successful maturity and hatching of pelican eggs. Other endangered birds include toucans, wood storks, egrets, amazons and herons.

Trees and Their Residents

Belizean rosewood is found only in Belize, Guatemala and some parts of southern Mexico. It is prized for its use in many products including sculptures, musical instruments and other items, and faces threat from increased demand. Several tree-dwelling species are also endangered in Belize, including two species of frogs -- red-eyed tree frogs and bromeliad tree frogs. Other endangered animals that call trees home include green iguanas and coatimundi, which are members of the raccoon family.

Mammals

Belize is home to five kinds of cats: jaguars, pumas, margays, jaguarundis and ocelot, all endangered. The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary near Dangriga, Belize, is a safe haven for a few individual members of all five cat species. Tapirs, Belize's national animals, are also endangered but find refuge at that sanctuary. Howler monkeys, among the largest primates in the area, are endangered due to human depletion of food sources, including flowers, fruits and leaves. They are also facing deforestation and hunting.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Author

Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.