LOCATION: Bermudian landing village, belize
TARGET SPECIES: Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta caraya)
STATUS: ESTABLISHED (SUSTAINED BY LOCAL LEADERS)

The Community Baboon Sanctuary (CBS) was an innovative solution to the conservation of private lands. The CBS has become a conservation model that has spawned a new wave of community conservation projects in Belize and internationally.

The CBS was the first community conservation project initiated by Dr. Rob Horwich and Dr. Jon Lyon who later formed Community Conservation. Created in 1985, the CBS links habitat protection for the endangered black howler monkey (locally called baboon) with community land utilization. Local protection of the black howler monkey (Alouatta caraya) and its habitat through encouraging a stewardship ethic in landowners was the main goal of this project. It involves the participation of 7 villages and over 120 landowners. Each landowner has signed a voluntary pledge to abide by a sanctuary generated land management plan.

In addition to the local protection of the howler, the Community Baboon Sanctuary has spread the interest in howler protection country-wide. The CBS donated howlers for a reintroduction into the Cockscomb Basin of Belize and also has contributed howlers for another smaller release in the Cayo District of Belize.

The sanctuary has encouraged a great deal of research on the howlers, the forest, the Central American river turtle, and the bird community. The howler reintroduction to Cockscomb was a culmination of the howler research.

While initially managed by the Belize Audubon Society (BAS), the CBS has been managed since 2001 by a Women’s Conservation Group. The CBS tourism and education programs center around a small natural history museum, Belize’s first museum. A new education center was built in 2003. There are also locally owned bed and breakfast tourism and local guide services, and a restaurant built in 2003 is run by the Women’s Conservation Group.

CBS’s strongest success has been its influence on rural communities country-wide. International and national publicity of the CBS has stimulated both directly and indirectly, dozens of community-based conservation and ecotourism programs.Community Conservation staff continued to advise the CBS project on expansion of tourism to other villages and the creation of a history/forest use museum in St Paul’s Bank village. It currently helps the CBS and its international partners at Stocton College in Ponoma, New Jersey, who have redone the museum exhibits and are helping to raise funds for the CBS. Community Conservation, as a tax-exempt organization, is managing these funds. Their partners have also created a new website for the sanctuary, www.howlermonkeys.org.