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Rapid Ecological Assessment Sarstoon Temash National Park, Toledo District, Belize

Scenes from the REA Surveys

Trainee Parataxonomist Juakin Cucul, Valentin Makin, Alberto Salam in a large Bullettree (Bucida buceras) in the swampforest south of Conejo village.
The lower reaches of the Conejo Creek bordered with swamp forest (May 4, 2003). The creek at this stage is brackish, but during the rainy season the water is fresh. The creek ends in the Temash Lagoon which in its turn drains into the Temash River.
The 2 mile long accessroad from Conejo village to the boat landing at the Conejo Creek still has impressive forest along it. The road at this stage is already within the National Park boundaries but slash-and-burn agriculture is still being practiced here at a large scale.
An interesting snake found along the Conejo farm road is Scaphionodontophis annulatus. This small snake mimics a coralsnake but it quite harmless.
Between the Sarstoon and Temash Rivers are extensive Swamp forests. Partly these swamp forests are dominated by the palm Manicaria saccifera, locally called "Comfra". This palm is not found elsewhere in Belize and therefore constitutes an unique element for the Sarstoon Temash National Park. The palm can grow quite large, in the foreground for scale is REA leader Jan Meerman. But the palm can actually grow taller than this.
Many areas within the park are only accessible by boat. Here we are crossing the Bay of Honduras between Barranco Village and the Temash River in a large canoe (dorey) made out of a single Cotton Tree (Ceiba pentandra). It was during this trip that a whole new ecosystem for Belize was dicovered. In the picture are Parataxonomist trainees Egbert Valencio, Tricia Mariano and Ornithologist Peter Herrera. In the background a thunderstorm is brewing.
An important component of the REA are vegetation transects. Here are Egbert Valencio and Tricia Mariano setting out a 200 m long transect through a swamp forest near the Temash River.


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Last modified: December 12, 2003