For a number of years, LightHawk has been working with various organizations and individuals in the Central American nation of Belize to conduct flyover flights to assist with the protection of the country’s resources. On Saturday February 16th, two of their volunteer pilots engaged in a flyover to different parts of Belize including Ambergris Caye. Their missions were to provide a birds-eye view of forest areas that have been illegally cleared on Northern Ambergris Caye, and also to identify possible habits for American Salt Water crocodiles found in Belize. On board the flight with LightHawk was Vince Rose of the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary (ACES), Ben Popik of Island Films and Jorge Aldana, The San Pedro Sun Senior Reporter.
Every year LightHawk flies their small five seater plane throughout Mesoamerica, including Belize, where they conduct several flights all geared to assist organizations who are dedicated to the protection of the world’s environment. It is an organization run solely with the help of volunteers and their resources. “None of us get paid, we do it because we enjoy the flying and feel very strongly about the mission of LightHawk. LightHawk’s mission is all about protecting the environment and the ecology,” said Stephanie Wills, a volunteer pilot with the organization. LightHawk’s main mission states that they “champion environmental protection through the unique perspective of flight.”
LightHawk February 2013-3“We show them (partners) things they can see from the air having to do with the environment, the land, the water we fly over; things they can never see from the ground. We stay in the area for about three to four months and fly all kinds of partners both government and non government agencies. We feel it is important not just for us but for the countries and the world as a whole. One of our aims is to educate people in the various countries we travel to. We want to show them how valuable the land, the animals and the species are to the specific places they are living in and also how important it is to protect them,” said a passionate Wills.
On Saturday, each of the three individuals on the flight had partnered with LightHawk to look at different areas of concerns. “We had two different missions on the same flight. The first one was to go to the north end of Ambergris Caye. There is a national park located on the island and lately there has been evidence that some unclean material have been dumped into the water, and some areas of the jungle are being cleared, maybe illegally, and we just wanted to look at that,” explained Wells. The flight took the crew to various coordinated points (provided by the Hol Chan Marine Reserve office) in which suspected illegal logging and hunting of wild animals had been reported near the Bacalar Chico National Park. Aerial photographs show some level of clearance and will be submitted to the relevant authorities for consideration as support documents.
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