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A Croc Jubilee! A Year of the CRC

On January 6, 2016, the Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC) was officially established by Dr. Marisa Tellez and Karl Kohlman.  The community throughout the Placencia Peninsula welcomed us with open arms to our mission, establishing fervor support amongst community members as well as strong partnership with the Placencia base environmental organizations the Southern Environmental Association (SEA), Fragments of Hope (FoH) and Projects Abroad.  Our mission and research reached out throughout various locations in Belize, establishing strong ties amongst several organizations in addition to the Belize Forest Department that led to our first year that can only be described as a crocin’ success!  Here are some highlights of the past 1st year of the CRC:

  • Next Gen Croc:  A youth program created in collaboration with FAMRACC and Ocean Academy on Caye Caulker to foster the next generation of wildlife enthusiasts, providing leadership and scientific mentorship to participating students and simultaneously building a crocodile conservation management program (http://www.crocodileresearchcoalition.org/portfolio/student-led-population-survey-caye-caulker/)
  • Population Survey of Morelet’s Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii) in Chiquibul Forest:  This survey was conducted in collaboration with Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) to assess this unique population of crocodiles.  A manuscript is currently underway illustrating a healthy population of crocodiles that may be the only genetically pure population of Morelet’s throughout the country.  The CRC provided their expertise with the assistance of colleague Shawn Heflick to provide training to FCD rangers to establish a local crocodile monitoring and conservation program (http://www.crocodileresearchcoalition.org/portfolio/population-survey-of-the-morelets-crocodile-in-chiquibul-forest-belize/)
  • Population Survey of the American Crocodile on Caye Caulker:  The CRC’s first published scientific manuscript (entitled “Population Status of the American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) in Caye Caulker, Belize) discussed the recovery of the American crocodile population from past exploitation. Human-crocodile conflict is almost non-existent on this caye, likely a result of crocodiles seeking refuge in the reserve in the northern part of the caye, and as a result of local environmental groups (such as Forest and Marine Reserve Association of Caye Caulker (FAMRACC)) educating the local community on the ability to co-exist with wildlife.  However, habitat loss and pollution threaten the viability of this population.
  • begin investigating species richness via parasistim  on blackadore caye (expand on what blackadore caye is)
  • continued biodiversity survey of ambergris caye and caye caulker- long-term monitoring project
  • assisted master’s students in their projects (describe miriam and blakeley’s work)
  • Preparing for several future master’s students investigating eco-toxicology, genetics, hybridization, parasitology, human-crocodile conflict
  • Croctober:  describe all events, visiting schools, rob carmichael event, daily posts
  • Collaborted with SEA and Project Abroad, performing monthly trash pick-ups
  • nationwide morelet’s survey established
  • established close collaborations with several national and international organizations (look at facebook page)
  • attended the IUCN meeting, and presented at Congress of the MesoAmerican Society for Biology and Conservation
  • Host to Our World Underwater Scholarship Society scholar Chris Millbern
  • Out of several “problematic croc” calls we received, we removed one.  This is because of education….
  • Began monitoring crocodile population around Placencia Lagoon, and began behavior surveys
  • Featured in several national and international TV shows and newspapers
  • CRC – UB scholarship

Year to come…

  • show, morelet’s survey, CRC scholar, Next Gen Croc, growing our volunteer program here in Belize, educational program with the development of a program coordinator intern position for a college student.  possible expansion in Nicaragua already