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Community Baboon Sanctuary/Belize

Introducing Community Baboon Sanctuary

No real baboons inhabit Belize; but Belizeans use that name for black howler monkeys, an endangered species that exists only in Belize, northern Guatemala and southern Mexico. The Community Baboon Sanctuary is an amazing community-run, grassroots conservation operation (run by local women's organizations) that has engineered an impressive increase in the primate's local population.

CBS occupies about 20 sq miles, spread over several Creole villages in the Belize River valley. More than 200 landowners in seven villages have signed pledges to preserve the monkey's habitat, by protecting forested areas along the river and in corridors that run along the borders of their property. The black howlers have made an amazing comeback in the area, and the monkeys now roam freely all around the surrounding area.

The CBS Museum & Visitor's Center has a number of good exhibits and displays on the black howler, the history of the sanctuary, and other Belizean wildlife. Included with the admission fee is a one-hour guided nature walk on which you're likely to get an up-close introduction to a resident troop of black howlers. Along the way the trained local guides also impart their knowledge of the many medicinal plants. Alternatively, the Visitor's Center also offers night hikes, canoe trips and croc-spotting tours. There are also nearly 200 bird species here to keep wildlife watchers busy. The center can also connect you with local homestays providing both food and lodging.