Heading north from Belize City, the Community Baboon Sanctuary (Bz$14; w www.howlermonkeys.org), to the west off the Northern Highway, is one of the most interesting conservation projects in Belize. It was established in 1985 by Dr Rob Horwich and a group of local farmers (with help from the World Wide Fund for Nature), who developed a code of conduct of sustainable living and farming practices. A mixture of farmland and broad-leaved forest along the banks of the Belize River, the sanctuary coordinates seven villages, of which Bermudian Landing is the most convenient, and more than a hundred landowners, in a project of conservation, education and tourism.
The main focus of attention is the black howler monkey (known locally as a “baboon”). These primates generally live in groups of between four and eight, and spend the day wandering through the canopy, feasting on leaves, flowers and fruits. At dawn and dusk they let rip with their famous howl: a deep and rasping roar that carries for miles. The sanctuary is also home to over two hundred bird species, as well as iguanas, peccaries and coatis. You can find exhibits and information on the riverside habitats and animals you are likely to see in the natural history museum – Belize’s first – at the reserve’s visitors’ centre in Bermudian Landing.