Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
#523823 - 05/31/17 06:07 AM Big Red Swept Off to Harvest Caye to Be Held Captive  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,364
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Animal Conservation Community Challenges Harvest Caye

And while that is a rare spot of good PR for the much maligned Harvest Caye, it's got another raging controversy on its hands. This time it's over a Scarlet Macaw named Big Red. The Belize Bird Rescue took it in about a year ago, and rehabilitated it for release. But last week, they say the Forestry Department and a Harvest Caye wildlife expert showed up at their headquarters and confiscated Big Red. It's reportedly now at Harvest Caye as part of their nature exhibit. But, a Macaw is a bird of the rainforest, not an island in the sun and slat spray. And that's what has the animal conservation community up in arms. Jamal Andrewin from the Belize Zoo explained:...

Jamal Andrewin - Education Director Belize Zoo
"The concern is that this Macaw that was apparently not assessed by anyone outside of Belize Bird Rescue was deemed non-releasable when the people that have been caring for it since October of 2016 have been adamant, they have asserted strongly that the bird is indeed a releasable candidate. So, they as well as us as their colleagues and other people who have heard the story have raised concerned as to why it was then deemed non-releasable and sent to harvest key for long term captivity when it's quite clear from the people that have been caring for it directly that are the experts on the matter that this bird, very much has a chance of being put back into the wild and continue to be a natural part of our natural heritage here in Belize."

"So, you would say that Harvest Caye may be the worst possible place to have this Scarlet Macaw?"

Jamal Andrewin - Education Director Belize Zoo
"Given what the bird needs in terms of its biology, its natural history, being in captivity, it's very hard to see a situation where they could provide these things for the bird on this Caye. The zoo is no stranger to providing long term care for Macaws and other similar species in a more natural environment. As you notice, we are in land, we have a forested area and they are cared for by staff that are committed to the conservation of those species. The concern is that it will be a continued practice, even people who have brought other concerns to us, being leaders in the wildlife field, the public as well as our colleagues, the question right now is what's next. People are fearful and expectorating about what other wild life species will be added to collection on Harvest Caye."

A part of the concern is also at the official level where the Belize Zoo is part of the National Bird Working Group which deals specifically with bird conservation. The issues has not been tabled at that level either:...

Jamal Andrewin - Education Director Belize Zoo
"Unfortunately, this is not an issue that was tabled. As individual members and as a working group, we weren't aware that this situation was happening until we were informed by BBR and we saw it on the media. So yes it is a point of concern for the individual members but it is very much a concern that this was completely passed over at the working group or just the individuals for consultation or even suggestion. So, yes until we get those answers it's a very strong point of concern for us and it is very troubling and that's what we will be looking at clarifying as soon as possible."

The animal conservation community promises to keep fighting against this transplanting of precious bird species, and to internationalize their fight AGAINST NORWEGIAN.

Channel 7

Big Red the Scarlet Macaw; imprisoned at Harvest Caye
Scarlet Macaws are one of the most poached birds in Belize, and about a year ago one of them was rescued by the Belize Bird Rescue (BBR), a non-profit organization located outside of Belmopan City. The male bird was given the name of Big Red and underwent rehabilitation for wild release. However, on May 23rd, he was reportedly handed over to personnel of Harvest Caye, a premier island destination in southern Belize where he would be kept in captivity. Since then, the management at BBR have joined forces with other environmental organizations in an effort to raise awareness and get Big Red out of Harvest Caye and back into the wild where he belongs. Big Red made his way to BBR when the Forest Department confiscated him during a routine inspection for their licensing program last year in November. He was discovered in somebody’s possession and brought to BBR for rehabilitation. “He was only a few months old at that time,” said Nikki Buxton, Managing Director at BRR. “There was no reason to consider any alternative other than release.”

Cruise Industry: A Menace to Wildlife?
This weekend, a reader of this blog sent me an article from the San Pedro Sun regarding NCL's exploitation of rare macaws in its development in Belize at Harvest Caye. NCL reportedly obtained numerous birds (toucans and other macaws) and animals and reptiles from the Belize government from the wild and/or rescue and rehabilitation centers for display in cages for the benefit of cruise visitors. The article about NCL's conduct, although outrageous, is just one of many examples of the abuse of birds and animals at cruise line private resorts and excursions throughout the world.

#523825 - 05/31/17 06:26 AM Re: Big Red Swept Off to Harvest Caye to Be Held Captive [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,430
Katie Valk Offline
Katie Valk  Offline
Return Big Red! If this bird has a chance of survival in the wild, we should do everything we can to make sure it does. Crime to be absconded with as a prop for cruise ship passengers. Thats what video is for.

Belize based travel specialist
#523832 - 05/31/17 07:48 AM Re: Big Red Swept Off to Harvest Caye to Be Held Captive [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 2,204
collyk Offline
collyk  Offline
It's just awful that after all of the work that has been done over the years to educate about not keeping Belizean wildlife captive, a perfectly healthy, releaseable bird was gifted or sold to a cruise ship company as an exhibit by the government. Belize markets itself as a conservation minded destination that supports dedicated work to preserving its natural heritage. This completely undermines that and, quite frankly, turns Harvest Caye into a cheap and nasty, terrible advertisement for what Belize really has to offer. This Scarlet Macaw needs to be returned to the rehabilitation facility where it has already been earmarked for their release programme. The Belizean Scarlet Macaw is unique and there are so few left in the wild. The last thing we need is to be giving them to cruise ship companies to profit from.

Last edited by collyk; 05/31/17 07:48 AM.
Belize Wedding Photography

#524058 - 06/14/17 01:26 PM Re: Big Red Swept Off to Harvest Caye to Be Held Captive [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,364
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
Big Red’s plight – study to be done on scarlet macaw

Controversy over the transfer of a scarlet macaw, from its rehabilitation roost at Belize Bird Rescue’s Sanctuary to Harvest Caye’s menagerie, peaked last week when bird conservationists questioned the reasoning behind the decision.

The questions over the transfer of the bird, “Big Red” were aimed squarely at officials of the Forest Department – the authority mandated to protect wildlife – after they gave the order for the bird’s release to Harvest Caye.

BBR has written to the Chief Executive Officer in the Forest Department, Dr. Percival Cho, listing its concerns over the bird’s release – a decision made by Deputy Chief Forest Officer, Marcelo Windsor, who signed an approval letter for the bird’s release to Harvest Caye.

BBR’s sentiments include that Harvest Caye is not the most suitable location for Big Red to be held in captivity because scarlet macaws are birds of the rain forest, not coastal areas where salt air prevails. Another issue it raised was that Big Red was being rehabilitated for release back into the wild, not to be kept captive and used for display.

The Reporter newspaper contacted Windsor, who this week said he approved the bird’s transfer nased partly on the advice of a senior wildlife veterinarian, Dr. Isabelle Paquet,who had examined the bird prior to the decision taken.

“Her advice was that we need to find a permanent home and that the animal was non-releasable back to the wild,” the senior forest officer told us.

But, Paquet, one of the chief veterinarians at the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic (BWRC) did not say that when we contacted her by e-mail.

She said that while she cannot speak for the grounds on which the Forest Department made its decision, her advice, using the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines, was “that it (the bird) needed to be tested for infectious diseases before it [could] be considered for release [into the wild] in order to protect wild populations, and that its physical and behavioral abilities needed to be assessed for releasability.”

Paquet explained that this is necessary in birds like Big Red’s case because if a bird enters the illegal pet trade, such as Big Red did prior to rehab, it can pose a problem. “There are numerous examples of well-intended returns of animals to the wild that have caused huge losses in populations,” the senior vet pointed out.

Paquet said that she merely conducted a physical examination of the bird and recommended the lab tests, which she said are essential.
“If an infected bird is sent into that last population it could mean disaster. Therefore, it is crucially important [for] veterinary health checks to be done, and that is what I recommended,” she recalled..

Windsor said the lab tests on a bird such as Big Red are very expensive and the quarantine period is lengthy, but the Department will use Big Red to conduct those tests to further the Department’s research on scarlet macaws, as it relates to the environment it can survive in. But he did say that this case provides the opportunity to perform non-invasive research and acquire more understanding on the species. That is going to be an ongoing, long-term practice, Windsor said. He offered his first-hand observation of healthy macaws and parrots held in captivity at resorts throughout the Caribbean.

Windsor said the decision to transfer the bird was also influenced by guidelines from the IUCN, and based on legislation, cultural practices, economic conditions, and the availability of managerial expertise.

The senior Forest Officer added that IUCN strongly opposes the release because of the threat it poses to its own species in the wild.

In addition, he said Big Red would not be able to survive in the wild.

“This animal was actually captured as a juvenile, and so it has not learned the necessary skills it needs to survive in the wild,” Windsor maintained.

Windsor added that the decision to transfer the bird was not an overnight one because the Department also consulted with a number of wildlife and bird conservation groups, including the Macaw Working Group. Hence, the concerns over the bird’s transfer do not hold.

“I do not know why or how or what justification they can actually use,” he said, referring to the conservationists’ concerns.

Windsor says that Harvest Caye, like all other menageries with animals in captivity are required to have the proper facilities in place, with wildlife experts on hand, and a cooperation agreement with the Forest Department that the animals will be used for non-invasive scientific research. The animals are on loan to these mini zoos, he said, since they are the property of the government.

The Department has a reintroduction program for macaws, but it has not had the desired results it was hoping to get, Windsor shared, despite the strict protocols applied. This is so because the macaws keep returning to the roost to be fed. These are among the 200 or 300 scarlet macaws that remain in the country today.

The Reporter

#524066 - 06/15/17 05:26 AM Re: Big Red Swept Off to Harvest Caye to Be Held Captive [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,430
Katie Valk Offline
Katie Valk  Offline
And now a large pond on the caye for more captured wildlife? A tapir maybe?

Belize based travel specialist
#524072 - 06/15/17 09:01 AM Re: Big Red Swept Off to Harvest Caye to Be Held Captive [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 2,204
collyk Offline
collyk  Offline
From what I understand much of this article is untrue. At no time did Dr. Paquet examine the bird according to Belize Bird Rescue and, in fact, the articles of association for this captive animal display for cruise ship passengers show that she is, in fact, a Director of the cruise ship animal side show. There is no good reason to have any of these animals that belong to Belize on that cruise ship port. If those animals are not fit for release, which experts claim that Big Red is, then they should be used for education and be available for viewing by Belizeans at the Belize Zoo.
Belize Wedding Photography

#524073 - 06/15/17 09:14 AM Re: Big Red Swept Off to Harvest Caye to Be Held Captive [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,328
dabunk Offline
dabunk  Offline
That whole article is a full package of lies and GOB self serving untruths as per usual BBR has been working tirelessly to preserve and save the wildlife and yet here Forrestry violates all its own rules and law so a cruise ship line can have a sideshow for passengers/

#524116 - 06/18/17 06:27 AM Re: Big Red Swept Off to Harvest Caye to Be Held Captive [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,364
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
Big Red is not dead!

by Jerry Larder and Nikki Buxton

It has been disappointing for many to have read the article in last week’s Reporter about Big Red, the Scarlet Macaw sent to Harvest Caye.

Of great concern, is the stand taken by known and respected Belize Forest Department officials, on this crucial issue.

However, upon close review of the circumstances involving the unjustified transfer, misleading information provided to our Forest Department officers is at the core of the situation involving Scarlet Macaw Big Red and also, Rosey.

These two birds were taken to Harvest Caye under suspicious and questionable circumstances. It is the objective of this article to clarify and inform on an accurate level.
It is known and accepted that Dr. Isabelle Paquet Durand of the Belize Wildlife Referral Clinic, advised our government FD officials, that the birds were not releasable!

Mr. Marcelo Windsor states that Big Red was examined by Dr Isabelle Paquet Durand. However, only one of the birds, Rosey was examined by Dr Durand prior to transfer.

Dr Durand in the seven months that Big Red was under the care of professional bird rehabilitators at Belize Bird Rescue, never visited to examine this Scarlet Macaw.

Yet, she advises that Big Red was “not suitable for release”.
Who is stating the truth? Mr. Marcelo Windsor, a respected and long term FD official or Dr. Durand, who, as everyone is aware, is directly involved with the animals kept in captivity on Harvest Caye.

Mr Windsor states that he consulted with wildlife and bird experts before the transfer of Big Red to Harvest Caye, including the Macaw Working Group.

This Group has long been dissolved and out of operation, so could not have been consulted.
The only in-country avian authority is the Government appointed National Bird Working Group.

This respected consortium was not contacted for advice. Nor was anyone on the international level contacted for advice.
From information received, it appears that only Dr. Durand was the advisory arm to Mr. Windsor, who unfortunately, received mis-leading information.
While IUCN guidelines were pointed out as an element of support for this transfer, all should know the succinct IUCN guidelines which pertain to this very issue, and which warn against transfers of species by government authorities to commercial care facilities.

Harvest Caye is a commercial care facility in this context.
There is on-going concern that further misinformation and misdeeds will lead to more wildlife being unjustifiably kept in an environment not suitable for their health and well-being. And for what purpose?

For the entertainment of passengers disembarking from a cruise ship? Is this the image Belize wants to project? Is this an example of our protection and stewardship profile over precious native wildlife?

Why does one person, a non-Belizean, who exhibited a conflict of interest in her association with the National Bird Working Group, while at the same time, serving on the Board of the Harvest Caye Conservation Foundation, have unmonitored authority to determine the future of our rare and beloved avian species, or any species for that matter?.

There are many questions to consider. Principle, truth, and justice, hopefully, will prevail.

Note: Jerry Larder and Nikki Buxton are Directors of Belize Bird Rescue, an organization with impeccable credentials which has been working for bird rescue and rehabilitation in Belize for many years.

The Reporter

#524304 - 06/28/17 04:46 AM Re: Big Red Swept Off to Harvest Caye to Be Held Captive [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,364
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
The Board of Governors of Belize Humane Society has passed the following motion concerning the captivity of Big Red and other wildlife at Harvest Caye. We have also sent a letter outlining our concerns to Prime Minister Barrow, Ministers Hulse and Figueroa (as Ministers responsible for environmental concerns), Belize Tourism Board and Norwegian Cruise Lines. We encourage our supporters to also make their views known, so that we can protect our wildlife from this type of exploitation. Our motion reads: "The Belize Humane Society opposes holding our Belizean wildlife in captivity at Harvest Caye or any other similar tourism facility. In particular, we call on the government to ensure that all wildlife currently held at Harvest Caye, including the Scarlet Macaw known as "Big Red", be released to a a bona fide wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organization such as Belize Bird Rescue. All decisions for the future of these animals should be made based on the best interests of the animal and overall conservation efforts. We also believe that failure to do so puts Belize's reputation as a responsible steward of the environment at risk, which has serious implications not only locally but internationally as well."

#525474 - 08/28/17 01:29 PM Re: Big Red Swept Off to Harvest Caye to Be Held Captive [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,364
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
[Linked Image]

The controversial issue about captive wildlife kept on Harvest Caye through the efforts of a foreign company, Norwegian Cruise Lines, continues to occupy the thoughts and actions of many. An online petition opposing this project, has resulted in over 50,000 signatures.

The stark reality of Harvest Caye, with regard to the toucans and the scarlet macaws being held captive there, is sad and unfortunate. To start, there is no “comfort zone” for the birds to escape from huge crowds of people, who climb off a cruise ship and saunter over to the “Nature Center” so that they can gawk at these rare birds. The marine environment, so foreign from their natural habitat of humid tropical forests, is destined to have adverse effects on their skin and feather condition. And while managers of the Harvest Caye Nature Center proclaim that “no evidence exists” about negative impact of salt and sand would have on the health of these birds, evidence indeed DOES exist.

Professional feedback from a certified avian vet at the Biodiversity Research Institute in Portland, Maine (there are no certified avian vets in Belize) strongly states that this type of situation bodes dangerous to the health and well –being of both forest dwelling species. Not only does overexposure to harsh sunlight on the cayes damage their eyes, but so do salt and sand in the air.

Neither toucans nor scarlet macaws have a preening gland. As a result, they will use their beaks to do all they can to keep their feathers in some type of suitable condition. By doing so, they will ingest salt and sand accumulating on their feathers from the sea air, which will prove hazardous to their digestive tract and kidneys. Sea birds take care of this situation with glands they naturally have to remove salt. Toucans and scarlet macaws? These rare birds are out of luck, not having similar salt-removing glands, they are stuck with a situation which directs their fate towards a deathly pathway.

Two macaws were hastily moved under suspect circumstances to Harvest Caye. One unreleasable macaw, was even kept secretly at the Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic, BWRC. until transfer. What a questionable beginning to a very questionable project. Four keel-billed toucans, our National Bird that is typically illegal to be owned, were acquired from a private collection, and transferred to Harvest Caye’s private collection. Why was this allowed?

These dubious actions signal that even initially, the program was indeed a mis-action. IUCN guidelines that warn against transfer of wildlife to commercial facilities were ignored and then manipulated to suit the needs of Norwegian Cruise Lines. How shameful that these guidelines were turned and twisted by the very vet who both chose to support the Harvest Caye Project, AND sell herself as a “wildlife vet” to the National Bird Working Group. Why is this allowed?

More to come. There is no sensible emergency plan for the evacuation of the birds, should a storm threaten the area. Sending the birds to a far away mainland destination before a dangerous storm will likely result in very serious health impacts. This easily occurs due to the stressful business of capturing and relocating all of these unfortunate and frightened birds each time there is a serious storm threat. Why is this considered and approved?

Does Belize need this bad example of wildlife exploitation? Who benefits from this nefarious scenario? The birds are innocent victims caught in a web of human greed. Nothing more. Nothing less. The deception, actions and negative publicity is a bad pill for Belize to swallow....Or must we accept this? Efforts to end this bad precedent established by Norwegian Cruise Lines will successfully work to send a strong message aimed at other potential exploitative efforts focused upon disrupting and disrespecting the environmental profile of Belize.

Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
Click for excellent scuba lessons with Elbert Greer!
Chaa Creek is an award-winning luxury Belize Resort, rated as one of the worlds best Eco Lodges. We are a pioneer in adventure travel to Belize since 1981!

Things to do

Daily News
Daily Weather

Classified Ads
San Pedro Sun
Ambergris Today
SP Town Council
Channel 7
Channel 5
Love FM
The Reporter
TV Newscasts
Radio Stations

Click for our
Search thousands of Belizean-only websites

Event Guides
Event Calendar
Specials & Events
Things to Do
iTravel Belize
Paradise Theater
Paradise Guy Event Calendar

San Pedro Scoop!
Tia Chocolate
My Beautiful Belize
I-Travel Belize
Belize Adventure
Belize Hub
Romantic Travel
Bound for Belize
Conch Creative
As The Coconuts Drop
More Blogs...
Search thousands of Belizean-only websites
White Sands Dive Shop - 5 Star PADI Dive Facility - Daily diving, SCUBA instruction and Snorkeling
Caribbean Inspired All Natural Condiments & Spice Blends, Over 100 are Gluten Free!
We manage a variety of homes, apartments, condos and commercial properties here on Ambergris Caye. Our minimum lease on ALL properties is six months.
Lil Alphonse has snorkel equipment to fit anyone as well as Marine Park Tickets and flotation devices to assist those not as experienced.
Coastal Xpress offers a daily scheduled ferry run to most resorts, restaurants and private piers on the island of Anbergris Caye. We also offer  private and charter water taxi service.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30
Cayo Espanto
Click for Cayo Espanto, and have your own private island
More Links
Click for exciting and adventurous tours of Belize with Katie Valk!
Mini Chat
Who's Online Now
0 registered members (), 62 guests, and 10 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Statistics
Most Online1,262
Jun 10th, 2007 HELP! Visitor Center Goods & Services San Pedro Town Message Board Lodging Diving Fishing Things to Do History Maps Phonebook Belize Business Directory Picture of the Day

The opinions and views expressed on this board are the subjective opinions of Ambergris Caye Message Board members
and not of the Ambergris Caye Message Board its affiliates, or its employees.

Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.6.0