By BBN Staff: The Belize Forest Department informed today that they have received alarming reports of crocodiles being directly and indirectly fed as well as being molested for purposes of tourism attraction.
The department reminds the public, tour operators and businesses that per the Wildlife Protection Act (CAP 220), “No person shall HUNT or ATTEMPT TO HUNT (defined as kill, take or molest by any means) any species of wildlife set out in the schedule”.
According to the Wildlife Protection Act, both species of crocodiles in Belize are listed under the aforementioned schedule.
The department warns that it is illegal to kill, capture, feed, pet, or otherwise interfere with any crocodile or its eggs. It is also illegal to be in possession of any crocodile parts such as skin, meat and/or teeth. It is also illegal to carry out any form of trade of any crocodile or crocodile parts.
The public is also advised that direct and indirect feeding of crocodiles is a dangerous practice as it increases the risk of crocodiles becoming accustomed to human interactions and relating people with food.
In addition, feeding crocodiles can result in unfortunate injuries to humans or domestic animals.
Several tours within Belize, come in contact with wildlife, including crocodiles and are a big part of tourism in Belize, however, proper and safe practices must be practiced.
“Whenever wildlife is encountered during a tour, it is important to keep a safe distance and avoid feeding or removing wildlife. Direct contact with wildlife, such as touching, is a dangerous practice and can lead to injury. Photographs may be taken,” the department says.
The Belize Forest Department will continue to respond to these reported cases and requests the assistance of the public in reporting any wildlife crimes.
The public can contact the Forest Department at 822-1524.