Thursday, July 18, 2024

Unusual wildlife behaviour on Ambergris Caye noted during pandemic/lockdown

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The past months have significantly reduced human activity on the island, thanks to State of Emergency lockdowns triggered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As such, unusual sightings of wildlife on Ambergris Caye have been reported. A variety of animals have been sighted in public areas, while crocodiles continue to make their appearance in residential areas. This is not necessarily because of fewer people around, but due to homes surrounded by water and suspected illegal feeding.

unusual wildlife activityAmbergris Caye has been through two lockdowns between March and September of this year. Although the lockdowns were lifted, the island has yet to return to regular business, and some areas continue with little human presence. Chris Summers from the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary (ACES) shared with The San Pedro Sun that when there are fewer people on the streets or in the waters, an increase of animal sightings can be expected in areas not generally frequented by wildlife.

Some of these unusual appearances have included a slight increase in the presence of raccoons, some boa constrictors, and in one occasion, a family of peccary by a wooded area near a populated neighbourhood. With no one around to bother them, the family of wild pigs reportedly carried on with what they were doing. Summers mentioned that if there were more wildlife on the southern part of the island as in the north, there would be a greater and varied amount of sightings. These events are reportedly happening around the world as a direct result of the lockdowns.

Busy time with crocodiles for ACES

unusual wildlife activityACES works around the clock, responding to issues relating to wildlife, particularly when it comes to relocating crocodiles from residential areas. During our rainy season, residential areas that were once mangrove or swamps become flooded by the rising water. If these areas are not secured, crocodiles can take up residence underneath houses, thus becoming a danger. A recent ACES report shows the removal of a 9.5-foot female crocodile from a flooded yard. According to them, the water was almost even with the front door. The presence of this wild animal was a danger for pets and even children.

Summers says that the solution is not only securing yards to stop crocodiles from entering, but the general public MUST adequately dispose of food waste and NOT to feed these animals (directly or indirectly with improperly disposed of garbage). When feeding wild animals like crocodiles, they will linger in the area and associate people with food. The result can be deadly, as these reptiles could attack a young child when hungry. Summers added that an increase in wildlife, especially crocodiles, could increase when human activities alter their natural habitat.

ACES can be reached at phone number 623-7920. To find out more about their work, visit
http://www.americancrocodilesanctuary.org/. They can also be found on Facebook under the name ACES / American Crocodile Education Sanctuary.

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