Posted: Thursday, October 13, 2022. 5:51 pm CST.
Photo Credit: BFREE
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Third Hicatee Conservation Forum and Workshop compiled the first draft of the ‘Conservation, Management and Action Plan for the Central American River Turtle, Dermatemys mawii, in Belize’, said the Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE) which held the forum along with Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and the Belize Fisheries Department.
According to BFREE, which is observing Hicatee Awareness Month throughout October, the plan expects to continue bringing awareness to the critically endangered Central American river turtles, locally known as Hicatee in Belize.
BFRE said the third Hicatee Conservation Forum and Workshop which was done virtually brought together 38 professionals, including key Government officials from the Belize Fisheries Department. All of these personas are in support of Hicatee research, conservation and outreach.
The forum was organized by Dr. Ed Boles, BFREE’s Dermatemys Program Coordinator, with support of BFREE’s staff members, and was facilitated by Yvette Alonzo with technical assistance provided by David Hedrick of the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA).
The workshop participants identified and discussed focal areas of, Laws, Regulations and Enforcement, Community Outreach, Education and Social Research; Captive Management and Reintroduction; Biological and Ecological Research, and in situ Conservation. The groups looked at 59 proposed actions divided among seven conservation goals.
The 33-page first draft of the “Conservation, Management and Action Plan for the Central American River Turtle, Dermatemys mawii, in Belize” will be reviewed in a follow-up workshop this year to convert it into an integrated and inclusive plan for Belize, guided by research and decades of traditional fishers’ experiences, said BFREE.
“If successful in Belize, the content will be exported as guidance for similar plans in Mexico and Guatemala,” said BFREE.
BFREE said that for the plan to be successful its research, conservation and restoration initiatives have to be local communities. In the community-based management through the entire Hicatee range, farmers, fishers, youths, and all concerned citizens are acknowledged as vital partners to ensure the survival of Hicatee.
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