Day 3: Camera traps and hiking

Today was our first day in the field. The project of the day was to set up 12 camera traps around Las Cuevas that will record information about the animals that are active in the area. The traps will take pictures of animals for 5 days, until our last day at LCRS. This information will allow us to make inferences about the number of species in the area and where they are most likely to be found. We’re hoping that we placed the traps in such a way so they’ll capture lots of small animals and maybe some big cats, like jaguars or ocelots.

One of the best parts of the day today was seeing a group of scarlet macaws fly right by where we were. Scarlet macaws are really rare in Belize, and are threatened by poachers that take them from their nests. Hopefully increased awareness about the problem will help to decrease poaching. Tourists should avoid taking pictures with macaws that aren’t in zoos or otherwise obtained legally in order to decrease demand for macaws.

We also saw a lot of tree species along the paths today including bastard mahogany, cedar, cecropia, fiddlewood, gumbo-limbo, give-and-take palm, mahogany, chicle, and strangling fig. Some of the chicle trees were extremely tall, and it was interesting to see the marks from the chicleros go up the tree as far as we could see.

Give-and-take palm – note the sharp spines!
All of the mahogany was small due to logging in the past
Chicle tree featuring scars from chicleros and Randy for scale

Over the course of the day we walked almost 14 miles (and in rainboots no less!) so it’s safe to say I’ll sleep well tonight. Tomorrow we’re going to learn a lot about ants. Turns out they have a pretty advanced societal structure!

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