The World of Wonder: Back to Belize

getting up close and personal with wildlife conservation

July 2nd, 2016

Hey animal lovers,

It's been two months since I left Belize, where I first felt the fire burning to get this magazine going. I was floating lazily on an inner tube through an ancient Mayan cave system, trying to keep my mind of the giardia ravaging my intestines (a whole other kind of burning fire...), and what better distraction than putting together the pieces of pursuing a lifelong dream? It made a lot of sense that Belize would get me motivated...bats whipped in and out of the caves as I drifted along with the current while howler monkeys let their presence be known with powerful vocalizations any time I floated beneath their trees. It was all animals, all the time. My kind of place. 

Seriously, they should call this the Babe Basilisk. Model material right here.

Seriously, they should call this the Babe Basilisk. Model material right here.

Now I'm back where it all began, and in less than a day's time I've already encountered a gorgeous brown basilisk (pictured above) which posed exceptionally well for me, clearly eating up the attention my camera was given. I've never met a lizard that didn't scramble at the presence of a person, but nothing about basilisks is typical. These lizards captivated me when I first heard of them at 10 years old during a vacation in Costa Rica. A lizard that could run across the water with its powerful, webbed hind legs? What child wouldn't go crazy for seeing that? Even almost two decades later I am delighted by their one of a kind ability to get around the water. Not a lot of animals out there that can be directly compared with Jesus, after all.


A roseate spoonbill greeted me next, its pink feathers shining in the bright summer sun. It was feeding in a freshwater pond, which was hosting a cow who thought she was a hippopotamus, just lounging about while the rest of the cows took to the shade. Clearly this cow is a trailblazer. It's hippo-ness was almost coincidental, since the root words for that animal are Greek for "river horse." Close enough. In any case, back to the bird. Roseate spoonbills tend to put those flat-ended bills of theirs to use during crepuscular hours, or dawn-ish and dusk-ish, so whatever this bird was up to, it was giving me a unique show. 

The next twelve days will consist of me exploring the entire country in pursuit of the biodiversity that calls Belize home. I'll be up at night seeking water possums and toads, and will hopefully spend a few good days in the Caribbean Sea checking out the wildlife underwater. There might even be a video or two, if you're lucky. Once I've thoroughly satiated myself on my own, I'll be teaming up with Scarlet Six Biomonitoring for a two week stint in the Chiquibil jungle protecting baby scarlet macaws from the poachers that steal them away to be sold as pets in Western countries. Poaching is causing this species to go extinct in the region, but there is a large amount of interest among locals to keep the population going. You don't always see that! So I'm excited to check it out for myself, maybe fend of a poacher from a bird or two, but ultimately showcase how Belizeans are acting in the interest of their home and its glorious animals.

It's great to be back in Belize, and I can't wait to share with you everything that I find.

Over and out,

Ali Wunderman


-> back to World of Wonder