Hicatee turtles are becoming more extinct as a result of being over hunted, every year. The month of October is observed as Hicatee Awareness Month where NGOs such as the Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education, BFREE, has made it their goal to spread awareness on the critically endangered specie. Jaren Serano, BFREE’s Science and Research Fellow, explains what the organization has been doing to save the hicatees and how they’ve been spreading awareness.

Jaren Serano BFREE Science and Research Fellow: “What we are doing with Hicatee awareness this month, we are trying to raise awareness for this loss and we want everybody to be aware and educated about how serious this issue is and how pressing it is to take action and to take care of the Hicatees. For Hicatee awareness month we have sent out numerous packets, educational packets to different schools country wide so they can incorporate the Hicatee into their teaching curriculum and we are trying to target different schools because we believe that the children are the future. We also do different outreach to different farmers and we use media outlets as like this one to let the public know more about what is going on. We try to have briefings with different hunters and we try to let them know that we are not saying not to eat the Hicatee but to harvest it in sustainable way.”

Serano also shares information on the Hicatees, such as the rate at which they are hunted, and the area that is further assisting in its extinction.

Jaren Serano BFREE Science and Research Fellow: The last country wide river survey for the Hicatee was done in 2010 and they found out that the Hicatee’s are very scarce in areas along the river side that are populated by people. There are little to zero Hicatee’s in those areas. The Hicatee are primary hunted along the Belize River Valley. We have done various different surveys talking to different hunters and like I said there was s a country wide survey in 2010 and the statistics showed that along the Belize River Valley is where Hicatee’s are hunted the most. Every since the dawn of time people usually hunt for food, hunt for living, it is something culturally embedded in us Belizean’s you know, we hunt game meat and the Hicatee just happens to be the game meat that is hunted and it has been over hunted and over exploited.

BFREE has launched a nationwide poster contest for students to participate in as they strive to spread awareness this month. The winner’s design will be featured on the 2019 Hicatee Awareness Month Poster that will be distributed to various schools in Belize. For more information visit the BFREE website at www.bfree.org.

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Hicatee’s Survived The Dinosaurs But Not Modern Belize

You probably didn't know that October is Hicatee Awareness Month - and hearing it now, you're might be thinking of how nice some Hicatee soup would be. Indeed, it's one of the most prized and rare local dishes. And that's because Hicatee cannot legally be bought or sold, it can only be caught for personal consumption.

Those laws were enacted about 20 years ago when it became apparent that Belize's Hicatee population was being eaten out.

Indeed, the Central American Fresh Water turtle as it is properly known is actually on the verge of extinction!

One local conservation group based in Toledo is raising awareness about its acute endangerment.

The Belize Foundation for Research & Environmental Education, known as BFREE is organizing awareness activities in schools and the general public. Today two of their educators came all the way form Bladden to Belize City to tell us why we should treasure this unique fresh water turtle:..

And more than just raising awareness, BFREE is actually breeding the endangered mammal. Serrano told us about their captive breeding facility - which is also unique to Belize.

The Hicatee season is open for 11 months of the year, but is limited to three turtles per person on foot or bike, and 5 per car.

Channel 7