Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Joel Nagel Secures $1 million Donation from Caye International Bank Limited Towards Belize Conservation


Two wildlife preservation organizations were recently the recipients of an incredible BZ$1 million donation via Caye International Bank Limited (CIBL). Two $500,000 checks were handed over at the end of 2022 to The Belize Zoo and Belize Karst Habitat Conservation by chairman of the Caye Bank, Joel Nagel and director Michael Cobb. The preservation of Belize’s rich natural resources remains a priority, and CIBL is proud to be able to lend assistance to two incredibly important organizations whose focus is to ensure the flora and fauna of Belize continues to thrive for generations to comefrom the Scarlet Macaw to the Tapir and Jaguar

$500,000 goes to The Belize Zoo

In 2020, like countless other organizations, The Belize Zoo (TBZ) was greatly impacted by the pandemic, as without tourism, there was no income. The animals in our care were our first and foremost priority,” said Celso Poot, Director of TBZ. This meant we had to cut back on staff and prioritized operating expenses.

While tourism is slowly bouncing back, Poot says that the zoo continues to operate on a heavy overdraft, with burdensome charges. Both Joel Nagel and Michael Cobb have played a major role in advocating for the preservation of Belize’s biodiverse ecosystem securing a generous donation from Caye International Bank Limited, providing a measure of relief, with a portion of the unrestricted funds going towards operational costs. With the limited funds over the past 2.5 years, upkeep and maintenance of animal exhibits was practically impossible. “The tropical environment is very hard on infrastructure, and not being able to undertake the necessary maintenance work needed over the past 2.5 years means that there’s a lot to do,” said Poot. The zoo’s director is looking forward to realizing some of the organization’s conservation goals, with a focus on iconic species such as the jaguars, yellow-headed parrots, scarlet macaws, tapirs and harpy eagle.

About The Belize ZooIn 1983, a collection of wild animals used for documentary filmmaking on tropical forests needed homes. Sharon Matola established The Belize Zoo and quickly realized that Belizeans were unfamiliar with the native wildlife. Thus, she committed to ensuring the little zoo would be a dynamic wildlife education center. With over 200 animals representing over 45 native species, The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center keeps animals that were orphaned, rescued, born at the zoo, rehabilitated animals, or sent to The Belize Zoo as donations from other zoological institutions. TBZ is located on Mile 29 on the George Price Highway, La Democracia.

$500,000 handed over to the Belize Karst Habitat Conservation

A registered NGO as of 2016, the Belize Karst Habitat Conservation started off with a group of tour guides who have spent over 20 years working in the Aktun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave, which forms part of the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve (TMNR). Described as a ‘paper park’ for over 15 years, the TMNR had no management and thus was rife with illegal logging and hunting. According to the Belize Karst Habitat Conservation Executive Director Aaron Juan, the group of guides applied for a co-management agreement to manage the park and put a stop on the illegal activities. The agreement with Belize government was signed in 2019, and the journey towards saving TMNR began.

We applied to PACT for a grant of $50,000.00bzd to develop a management plan and clear some of the boundary lines with some signs,” said Juan. Unfortunately, this headway soon came to an abrupt halt. “[While] our project was completed successfully, due to Covid, the daytoday management was interrupted for over 2 years.”

Management of a large swathe of reserve requires a solid presence on the ground, and the NGO’s aim has been to obtain funds to build a ranger station that will also have an extension for research. Rangers

must be hired and be properly equipped with a vehicle that can both conduct patrols and NGO business. The NGO also needs to build road access to the park, clear all boundary lines, build a nursery for reforestation, conduct surveys and put in place programs for buffering communities, among many more responsibilities.We also realize that we needed to build the structure and capacity of the NGO to increase our management effectiveness,” adds Juan. “This project will be a combined effort with financial support from Mayawalk Tours, Protected Area Conservation Trust, The GEF small grants program and this most recent $500,000 anonymous donation secured through CIBL.”

The Belize Karst Habitat Conservation is located on #19 Burns Avenue, on the first floor above Mayawalk Tours and Tandor Restaurant. The organization is fully prepared to provide Management Plans and Financials for review.

What is Karst: Landscape Underlain by limestone which has been eroded by slow moving water (dissolution). This slow-moving water is acidic to limestone and it produces large caves and sinkholes.  

Caye International Bank’s role in million-dollar donation

Chairman and co-founder of Caye International Bank Ltd. Joel Nagel was instrumental in obtaining the funding that will provide both organizations that much-needed cushion to continue their preservation roles. As chairman of the Caye Bank, Nagel identifies opportunities for the bank as well as its shareholders and customers to support philanthropic projects throughout Belize, committed to its preservation alongside its development. “I believe it is our duty to be good stewards when it comes to protecting the environment in the communities in which we live and do business.  Belize has such incredible biodiversity in its reefs and jungles, and I want to play a role in protecting them for our children, grandchildren and their grandchildren. That being said we are pleased to partner with the Belize Zoo, Aces, the Bird Rescue, Karst Habitat Conservation, Rotary and other organizations throughout Belize,” said Nagel. Nagel is also a prominent figure amongst countless civic organizations including Rotary International, where Nagel served as founder of the San Pedro Rotary Club.

Working alongside him, Michael K Cobb, CEO and Chairman of ECI Development and Co-Founder and Director of Caye International Bank went on to state, “This is huge…a million dollars in donations to Belize wildlife preservation!” Cobb accompanied Nagel in the handing over of both checks to the respective organization representatives. Both gentlemen believe in conserving Belize’s natural resources for generations to come. To be able to help fortify the source of so much joy: the animals and their natural habitats, is an incredible opportunity, and one they are thrilled to play a role in.

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