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Save The Frogs Day: April 25th, 2015

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SAVE THE FROGS! 2014 Belize Eco-Tour

Belize Eco-Tour Homepage
SAVE THE FROGS! Belize homepage

"Simply one of the best trips of my life, thank you Michael and Kathlyn for this great experience, and thanks to SAVE THE FROGS! too, keep up the great work! I loved every minute of it. Frog lover for life!"
-- Luis Miguel Gallardo, SAVE THE FROGS! Belize Eco-Tour participant

Introduction

Our 2014 SAVE THE FROGS! Belize Eco-Tour was held June 19th to 28th and wow what a trip! Ten frog-saving supporters trekked through rainforests, hiked through pine savannah, relaxed on white, sandy beaches, and found lots and lots of beautiful frogs! The ecotour was led by SAVE THE FROGS! Advisory Committee Chairman Michael Starkey; and SAVE THE FROGS! Biologist Kathlyn Franco. Belize is teeming with life. From birds, to bats, to bugs, we saw many fascinating animals. Frogs of course were the target and we saw 15 species! We visited the Tropical Education Center; the Mayan ruins Xunantunich and Lubantaan; the Blue Creek Rainforest; the Toucan Ridge Ecology and Education Society; the beautiful Caribbean beaches of South Water Caye; and the Smithsonian Institute's field station at Carrie Bowe Caye. Does that sound fun? Enjoy the photos below, and contact us if you want to join a future SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour!.

Tropical Education Center (TEC)

The TEC is situated on a large plot of tropical savannah and is a great place to immerse yourself in the wilds of Central America. After settling in, we set out to find some frogs. It was the beginning of the wet season in Belize and the frogs were out!

Incilius valliceps

Leptodactylus melanotus

Trachycephalus venulosus

Xunantunich

While staying at the TEC, we took a day to experience the incredible archaeological site Xunantunich! Located just outside of San Ignacio, this city is thousands of years old. We were also quite privileged to receive a guided tour of the local plants and their uses as we explored the ancient Mayan city.

Xunantunich

Blue Creek Rainforest

We traveled south to the remote village of Blue Creek, which is located in the Toledo District. Blue Creek is inhabited by a community of Mopan Maya people. From the road we hiked a third of a mile to the Blue Creek Rainforest Lodge, which is located in old growth rainforest. The trail to the lodge parallels the aquamarine creek from where the village gets its name. By day we swam in the creek and explored the rainforest and the cave systems that are scattered throughout the area. Situated in pristine, old-growth rainforest, Blue Creek is a haven for wildlife and the diversity of flora and fauna is amazing!

At Blue Creek there are so many activities to experience. We were guided through the forest by an extremely knowledgeable Mayan ethnobotanist and we learned how the forest provides so many uses for the Mayan people. We also trekked up mountains, hiked through the rainforest, forged rivers, and explored intricate cave systems. It is a truly beautiful area to visit and explore. We spent many hours of the day hiking through the myriad of trails that pass through the rainforest. The water level in the creek, which was acting more like a raging river, was quite high! It was quite the experience to cross together as a group! If we were not hiking trails or fording streams, then we were climbing! All members of the group were able to climb up root-covered rock walls to make it to the entrance of the Blue Creek Cave. Blue Creek Cave is an incredible sight. The mouth of the cave is absolutely breathtaking! One day we explored the inside of Blue Creek Cave. Getting there was quite an experience, but it was well worth the hike! We discovered many interesting creatures that called the cave home, included this Tailless whip scorpions (often called whip spiders), but they are scientifically referred to as amblypigids. They might look a bit scary, but they are totally harmless. One morning we took a few hours to walk with a local guide and ethnobotanist. The guide led us all around the forest and taught us how they used plants in the forest for their food, making their homes, or even for their medicine. After a day of hiking through the forest, it was great to cool off in Blue Creek! Rain or not, it was still a refreshing experience. From Black Hawks soaring above our heads to coming face to face with the elusive water possum, the wildlife sightings were phenomenal! The best part though? The frogs! The diversity of amphibian life is quite high in Blue Creek because of the substantial rain that falls each wet season. During our stay it was the beginning of the wet season in Belize and the frogs were out! Each night we went out looking for frogs we were never disappointed. On our last night at Blue Creek we found many Marine Toads. After a few photos, we set them on their way. These toads are essential for controlling pest species in Belize, like cockroaches, mice, snakes, and even scorpions!

Craugastor sandersonii

Craugastor sandersonii

Craugastor sandersonii

Craugastor sandersonii

belize frogs

belize ecotour

Rhinella marina

 

Toucan Ridge Ecology & Education Society (TREES)

TREES is a biological station and eco-lodge run by Canadian biologists Vanessa Kilburn and Mathieu Charette. Vanessa did her masters research on chytrid fungus and took Dr. Kriger looking for endangered turtles on Canada's Sunshine Coast in 2009. We were happy to hear about her and Mathieu moving to Belize and opening TREES in 2012!

Home of the endemic Maya Mountain Frog, TREES is located on 200 acres of prime amphibian habitat and it borders the Sibun Forest Reserve. TREES not only offers amazing opportunities to the see the forest, but the amenities are also excellent for birding or chilling out in the hammocks. The swimming is great too! There is so much to see and do at TREES, but we were there for frogs… and frogs we found! At night we set off into the forest and hoped to find some fabulous amphibians. It was not long before were found the endemic and threatened Mayan Mountain Frog (Lithobates juliani). This species is unfortunately becoming quite rare in Belize, so it is a treat to be able to see a healthy population at TREES! We also found some amazing species that live on the forest floor! This is the endangered Rain Frog, Craugastor sandersoni. This species is heavily impacted by habitat destruction and pesticides. We also found the threatened Blue-spotted Treefrog, Smilisca cyanosticta. We also found some very cool reptiles, like this cryptic Helmeted Iguana, Corytophanes cristatus. This species is very hard to find, so it was a joy to see them up close and personal.

Blue spotted treefrog

TREES BELIZE

Helmeted iguana

Lithobates vaillanti

Maya mountains frog

Smilisca cyanosticta

belize hiking

South Water Caye

After a froggy week in the jungle it was time to dry out and head to the island! Our group spent the remainder of the trip at South Water Caye, which is a 14 acre island that is just a 45 minute boat ride east of Dangriga. This was a great place to relax, snorkel, and bird watch! We were taken to some excellent snorkel sights, but along the way we had to check out the Frigate bird and Brown Booby colony! Sadly there were no frogs on the island, we did find this pretty amazing endemic species of gecko! After a relaxing few days, the group packed up and went home. What a trip!

Join a SAVE THE FROGS! Eco-Tour

Want to experience the rainforest with us? Then send an email of interest to contact@savethefrogs.com. We'd love to have you join us on an upcoming SAVE THE FROGS! Eco-tour!

Please take a look at SAVE THE FROGS! Belize's webpage

Learn about Belize's frogs and our efforts there at: www.savethefrogs.com/belize

Save The Frogs Belize

Together we can SAVE BELIZE'S FROGS!