FCD Executive Director, Rafael Manzanero also spoke about the damaging environmental effects of illegal poaching and cattle ranching by Guatemalans. Manzanero says that illegal wildlife trafficking and poaching documented in the Chiquibul Forest is a primary threat to biodiversity and also opens the door for narco-trafficking to take place.
Rafael Manzaner, Executive Director, FCD: “I would say that the one that is really critically important and also complicated is the cattle ranching activity. Cattle ranching, it is more complicated because it tends to occur within the adjacency zone, a lot of it. So, that brings the caption of OAS involvement, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of course the Government from Guatemala and institutions in Guatemala including the BDF and also the Guatemala Armed Forces to ensure that 1. It is really being documented within Belizean territory. That has to be validated and verified and then what to deal or how to deal with that problem is another one. For one, the expansion really means that they have to be removing mote of the forest because they need land and land within Belize and in some cases it goes beyond the 1 km adjacency zone. The expansion of that activity will mean more of the deforestation of the forest. The second thing that probably is more urgent and more of a serious concern is that it can also have the involvement of drug lords in those areas and if that occurs then it’s a whole different dimension.”
The Wildlife Protection Act stipulates that violators can be fined up to five hundred dollars on the first offence and up to one thousand dollars or face imprisonment for recurring offenses within a three year span.