Belizeans put their own unique Caribbean spin on things, and so the Community Baboon Sanctuary (CBS) might be better described as a vast nature preserve that is home to black howler monkeys, known locally as “baboons”. Belize is home to many national parks and nature preserves, but what makes CBS such a special place is how it is operated. A genuinely community-run, grassroots commitment to keeping Belize wild and beautiful, CBS is the perfect place for visitors to get introduced to native fauna.
Measuring approximately 20 square miles of the Belize River Valley, CBS is much more than just a wildlife conservation area. Several indigenous Creole villages are located within the sanctuary and the entire community works to protect the forests and rivers. Years of grassroots conservation efforts have succeeded in attracting one of the largest Yucatan black howler monkey populations in the world.
Tours of the CBS begin at the visitor’s center. With many informative displays about the black howler monkey and many other indigenous wildlife species living in the sanctuary, the visitor’s center also sells maps of trails that you can explore on the property. But most visitors choose the free 45-minute guided nature walk that includes a face-to-face introduction to the sanctuary’s eponymous inhabitants.
The Yucatan black howler monkey, officially alouatta pigra, once thrived in Central America but today, the species is classified as endangered. These unique simians can now only be found in rural parts of Guatemala, southern Mexico, and Belize. The CBS and its dedicated population of conservation-minded villagers have been championed for their success in increasing the number of black howler monkeys.
The Yucatan black howler monkeys is the largest type of its species in the world. Male black howlers can grow as large as 25 pounds with long, black hair and a prehensile tail. Living predominately in rainforest treetops, the black howler monkey feeds almost entirely on leaves. Black howler monkeys earn their name from the special hyoid bone in their throat that allows them to produce one of the loudest animal sounds in the world.
Other features of the CBS include an estimated 200 different species of birds that flit through the pristine forests of the sanctuary. Special adventures are available for a separate price, including canoe trips, night hikes, and crocodile spotting tours.
Tours of the Community Baboon Sanctuary can be booked with the Caves Branch Jungle Lodge.