Park rangers who patrol the Chiquibul National Park came across armed illegal Guatemalan hunters with a horse and gibnut at 12:30 p.m this Sunday, January 28, while in the area with members of the Belize Defence Force and the Special Patrol Unit of the Police Department.
The joint patrol was able to apprehend three armed Guatemalan males who were in the area: Roni Alexander Lopez, Abraham Estevan Depaz and Encarnacion Depaz – all of Dolores, Petén, in Guatemala.
The men had 20-gauge shotguns which had no brand or serial number on them, suggesting that they may be stolen weapons. The men also had live ammunition: Roni Alexander Lopez had 3 live rounds of 20-gauge ammunition; Abraham Estevan Depaz had 2 live rounds of 20-gauge ammunition; and Encarnacion Depaz had 4 live rounds of 20-gauge ammunition and 1 live round of 16-gauge ammunition.
Encarnacion Depaz said that he had hunted the gibnut.
The men, who admitted that they were all hunting wildlife, were then taken out from southern Cebada to Millonario Camp, then onward to Tapir Camp and were eventually handed over to the San Ignacio Police on Monday night, 29 January, for charges to be laid by Belizean authorities.
Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director of Friends for Conservation and Development, said: “Hunting of wildlife in the Chiquibul Forest has been prominent nearby the western flank of the Chiquibul National Park. However, our last 2016 report noted that less hunting evidence was recorded compared to 2013 which may be attributed to the dramatic decrease of illegal xate extraction plus the cessation of illegal logging in the Chiquibul Forest.
Later this year, FCD expects to conduct the third wildlife survey and diagnostic of game species in the region, in order to validate the status of species such as great curassows, brockett deer, white lipped peccary and gibnut.