The Friends for Conservation and Development is reporting tonight that they caught 2 Guatemalan residents poaching rare birds from inside the Chiquibul National Park. One of them took aim at a ranger with a .22 rifle, and the rangers then had to shoot at one poacher who escaped. The poacher threw down his rifle as he ran. Fortunately no one was hurt - but the armed encounter shows the escalating level of danger in that forest.
It happened yesterday morning at around 10:30, about 4 kilometers from the Western Border. The FCD rangers were training some recruits when they encountered 5 Hispanic men.
Three of them escaped, so 2 out of the 5 were detained, and the .22 rifle, which had an empty magazine, was retrieved. The rangers searched the area and found 2 crocus bags. One bag contained 1 male curassow, 2 female curassows and one crested guan - all dead. The second bag contained clothing, food, ropes, and a pair of climbing spurs which are used to take down macaw nests. Two separate small bags were also found and each contained a scarlet macaw chick.
The 2 men were later identified as 29 year-old Edras Geovani; a Honduran native who has been living in the Guatemala Village of La Rejoya, Peten; and 18 year-old Elder Mauricio Diaz, a resident of Morales, Izabal, Guatemala. Both were detained by the FCD
personnel who are special constables, and they were were escorted to the San Ignacio Police Station, where they were handed over to the Police at 3:55 this evening. They face multiple criminal charges.
The detainees said that they went into the Chiquibul specifically to search for macaws and that they would sell them at approximately 1,000 quetzales - or approx. $300.00 Belize dollars - each
Buyers from the Peten Department arrive either on car or motorcycle to purchase the birds at
border villages such as La Rejoya.
Just last week, the FCD intercepted another 5 poachers but all managed to escape.
These macaws were estimated to be some 50 days old, and it is estimated that they were caught 4 days ago. These birds were handed over to the Forest Department where it is expected that a veterinary diagnostic will be made and recommendations determined for safeguarding these birds.