This month’s A Load of Croc is written by Program Coordinator Darcy Uclez
CROCtober“ GWEN BAK TU WI ROOTS ”
Living in a diverse country with various indigenous roots, colonialism has faded a lot of our ancestral traditions. We no longer see the cultural attire being worn, languages being spoken, or hearing the amazing wildlife folklore that connected people to nature, as well as provided an appreciation for the local flora and fauna. The reason why our theme for this year’s CROCtober was “Going Back to Our Roots.” The CRC team ventured virtually to various schools, eco-clubs, and other organizations both locally and globally this CROCtober 2021. This year, we decided to spice up the virtual outreach by inviting guest presenters from The Belize Zoo. The CRC works closely with The Belize Zoo and given there is no face-to-face presentations due to covid, why not bring the zoo to the students? We had “The Belize Zoo” sharing about crocodiles and showing the students some of the tapirs. We then moved on to Dr. Marisa Tellez, who shared one of the creation stories of the Maya, who believed that the earth rested on top of a crocodile’s back; the story ends with the crocodile sacrificing herself to save the world from a sky monster and when her blood came to earth, people arose- thus we are all made of crocodile blood!
The fun didn’t end there. We then delved more into the crocodiles’ closest living cousins, birds. Presenter Mrs. Nikki Buxton from the Belize Bird Rescue shared some of her knowledge with the students, and also explained that parrots are meant to be in the wild and not as pets.
We also partnered up with the Belize Raptor Center, who educated the audience about their conservation work and why they are protecting the species of animals that they work with.
Not only did we do educational outreach for schools and eco-clubs, we also visited news media such as Madah Fayah and SunUp7 morning show, where we shared how important it is to preserve our ancestral traditions through crocodile conservation. By maintaining our natural ecosystem, knowing the crucial role it plays in our new generation, picking up a plastic bag, leaving wildlife in the wild, and even spreading information about its importance, you are already protecting what your forefathers preserved.
Overall and despite covid restrictions here in Belize, we conducted educational outreach to 18 primary schools, 2 high schools, and 1 university during this month of CROCtober. We hope by next year we can conduct our entertaining face-to-face educational outreach, but virtual sessions have allowed us to connect with various schools across the country that we otherwise may not be able to reach. We will likely continue our educational outreach program both virtually and in-face in the future to further our goals of crocodile coexistence and creating CrocWise communities throughout the country!