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Apr 15, 2013

Chocolate forever, well loved conservationist passes away

Leonel “Chocolate” Heredia

A man who dedicated a great portion of his life to conservation has passed away. His efforts brought him critical and international acclaim by environmental groups. He was simply known as “Chocolate” to everyone he met. But eighty-three year old Leonel Heredia had been ill for two weeks and died from the effects of an aneurysm on April twelfth in his Caye Caulker home. The fisherman was a founding member of the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association, but as the years passed his affinity to nature grew. In the eighties, Chocolate swam amongst the manatees at Swallow Caye and as a guide, he saw more people taking visitors to see manatees. Realizing the need for conservation, he and others started a group in 1996 called Friends of Swallow Caye, which sought to establish Swallow Caye as a Wildlife Sanctuary.  The wildlife sanctuary was established in 2002. But prior to his death, in late 2012, he was interviewed in an Open Your Eyes feature on Caye Caulker. Here’s Chocolate in his own words.


Leonel “Chocolate” Heredia, Deceased

“I used to run on top of them and cut the tail; climb on them—one kill and heng the head fi make I see…oh god. And the day when young says well I’m spry to tell you but I will go with Chocolate one. And that is the day, 2002. Swallow Caye right now has about a hundred animals. When you go there, you noh need to chase them, they come to you. How much manatees eat every day? Ten percent of their body weight. When they deliver; how dehn deliver? It’s hard, I see one and I can tell you how they deliver. I learn a lot so when people come, they want you present yourself when you go on the trail; when you enter this is the front to the south of the area—declared in 2002, nine thousand acres. If anyone of the tour guides say, Chocolate we want sit down with you. I would. I want a person go there with the heart of the animals and make it go from one general to another. I hope my Belizean people enjoy it, appreciate it and continue my legacy when I die.”


Heredia was in the company of his wife Annie when he passed away. In 2012, Oceana presented the environmentalist with the Ocean Hero Award for his outstanding work as a conservationist, which spanned over five decades.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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4 Responses for “Chocolate forever, well loved conservationist passes away”

  1. Mike says:

    Great man with a great idea to save Belize resources! Rest in peace.

  2. Bear says:

    He deserves to be remembered as a national hero. The good he did will live on long after him. RIP.

  3. A Tourist says:

    He died from embarasement of what has happened to Belize.

  4. Marshee says:

    While PC 90-92, Chocolate was the boat to take to Caulker. Hw will be missed on many levels.

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