The first month into the Crocodile Research Coalition’s second year as an organization and we have been nonstop. The start of February brought with it our intern Joseph Robertia, who stayed with us to research and focus on crocodile behavior. Joseph came down to visit us from Alaska, and he came just in time for part of our Morelet’s Nationwide Population Survey on Monkey River. While down here he also had the opportunity to aid us in educational outreach at Placencia Artwalk and at two of the local schools, conduct our monthly eyeshine of Caye Caulker with Next Gen Croc, and conduct behavior research at BAL Shrimp Farm. During our outreach we were joined by The Belize Zoo and Belize Raptor Center for apex predator outreach. Days after Joseph left we were visited by Busch Gardens, Florida, USA and company. Their visit was short but packed with excitement, as we received multiple calls for “problem crocodiles” during their stay, and surveyed a portion of the Sittee River for the Morelet’s Survey with the Sittee Reserve’s head biologist David Hilmy.
Of the calls received by the CRC about “problematic crocodiles,” not one was actually a problem animal. The crocodiles were acting normally and were simply in unwanted locations for those living in close proximity. It is possible to co-exist with crocodiles as long as people remember not to directly or indirectly feed, harass, or handle the animals. The two species of crocodiles here in Belize, the American and Morelet’s, are not considered “man-eaters,” and both are typically shy of humans by nature. Unless these animals are fed or handled by people, they will naturally avoid humans. As a reminder, it is illegal to harm, consume, or sell/buy any crocodile or their body parts.
Following all the excitement and special visits the CRC welcomed Shawn Heflick of Croc U back to Belize. Shawn joined us to conduct further research into the Morelet’s Crocodiles of Chiquibul Forest as we moved into the new month. The CRC had previously found a high rate of cannibalism in the Morelet’s of Chiquibul and returned to further investigate.