Jul 12, 2006

The Belize Audubon Society has closed off two of its sites. The Cockscomb
Wildlife Sanctuary and the Actun Tunichil Muknal Natural Monument have
been closed off to vehicular traffic due to weather conditions.

We spoke with Belize Audubon Society Publicity Coordinator, Dirk Francisco.

Dirk Francisco, Publicity Coordinator, Belize Audubon Society

"Right now because of the lot of rain in Belize, Cockscomb Basin-the access
to it, had a culvert that washed away so for vehicular traffic it's very
difficult for some tour companies who are still trying to traverse into
cockscomb by having the visitors cross the area on foot and they have to
walk 4 more miles into the 7 mile road. We are not recommending that any at
all because the conditions at Cockscomb Basin right now are very difficult
to walk. It's very muddy and slippery and people could get hurt while
walking on the numerous trails especially the more scenic areas in
Cockscomb like the Tiger Fern Waterfalls and the Ben's Bluff Waterfalls.
Access to them is on some strenuous trails so to reduce injury or harm to
any visitors we just closed off the area."

Francisco says the Actun Tunichil Muknal Natural Monument is equally

Dirk Francisco, Publicity Coordinator, Belize Audubon Society

"Actun also has a road across to Roaring Creek which vehicles normally
drive. Right now the water is raging across the area. It's very dangerous
to cross and then going to Actun is an adventure because you have to cross
the lower Barton Creek, three times on foot. The water again is very high
and it's flowing very rapidly. It has some strong current but again to
reduce injury or to prevent people from getting hurt we're actually closing
the area for visitors until the water settles down or the weather gets

We asked Francisco about normal activities in these areas

Dirk Francisco, Publicity Coordinator, Belize Audubon Society

"Right now Cockscomb has a lot of visitors. When it rains a lot there is
the high possibility of seeing some great wildlife that Belize has to offer
at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary so we have mostly overnight visitors
to the area who would normally spend an average of three days at Cockscomb
trying to get the opportunity to encounter a Jaguar in the wild where as
with Actun, because of the price of the entrance fee and the sensitivity of
the cave system at Actun Tunichil Muchnal there are only three licensed
tour companies allowed to take visitors there so this makes visits the area
very controlled and spread evenly throughout the year so there is no time
when you can say there is too many visitors at Actun. Right now it just set
back some of the already set tours to either parks."

Dirk Francisco, Publicity Coordinator for the Belize Audubon Society.