One of the most unusual and successful conservation programs in Belize is the Community Baboon Sanctuary (CBS). First created in 1985, the CBS is a coop that works with several different villages in the Bermudian Landing area approximately 31 miles (50 km) north of Belize City in order to protect the local population of black howler monkeys (known locally as “baboons”).
Many Belize tours include a stop at the CBS because it is a thriving example of sustainable eco-tourism. The profit generated from museum and entrance fees goes towards the local villagers who, in turn, serve as conservation agents to help protect and sustain the black howler monkey population in the region.
Black howler monkeys are indigenous to Latin American rainforests but development and poaching have led to a steep decline in their numbers. The CBS works with seven different Creole villages in a 20-square mile (52-square km) area to protect troops of black howler monkeys indigenous to the region. The CBS also serves as an important research station for conservation scientists as well as an educational facility for both foreign visitors and locals alike about these amazing animals.
Many of the finest Belize adventures begin with a visit to the CBS, not just to see the monkeys but to explore the lush natural rainforest environment. Local villages don’t just protect the monkeys but also serve as guardians of the rich abundance of plants and other animals that thrive in this region of Belize.
Due to its proximity to the international airport, many Belize resorts offer guided tours to the Community Baboon Sanctuary, which includes a museum and visitor’s center featuring exhibits and information about all of the wildlife and flora in the region. Visitors in the country for their Belize vacations can also wander along well-marked trails in order to better catch a glimpse of the monkeys.
Since its inception, the CBS has successfully managed to increase the number of black howler monkeys to more than 2,000 individuals and to integrate the life of local villagers in a sustainable way, including by providing income generated from tourists. There is also a restaurant on site where visitors can meet locals and share a meal of traditional Belizean cuisine.