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Aug 31, 1998

Manatees slaughtered in Belize, meat sold in Guatemala

It’s been a while since we’ve had the displeasure of reporting the discovery of dead manatees on Belize’s coastline; but it doesn’t mean that the poachers have given up their habit. News has been received of the death of not one, but at least three of the aquatic mammals in southern Belize, and at least this time, an exact motive for the killings has been pinned down. The Coastal Zone Management Project, in a press release, today denounced the senseless slaughter of the animals in the Port Honduras area of Toledo which occurred last Friday. According to manatee researcher Nicole Auil, fishermen in Punta Gorda reported that manatee meat was being sold in nearby Livingston, Guatemala. Since the greatest population of manatees is found nearby in Belize, the Director of the Toledo Institute of Development and Environment, Will Maheia, went out to investigate the manatee rich waters located between Punta Gorda and Punta Negra. Both north and south of Deep River Maheia reportedly found several carcasses, one of which had a rope tied around its neck. According to Auil, its tail had been slit and the meaty mid-section removed. She says it cannot be ascertained exactly how many animals have been killed, how long the slaughter has been going on or who has been transporting the meat to Guatemala. She is calling on the general public to report any killing of manatees to the Forestry Department as such action is against the law. Statistics from the Coastal Zone Management Project indicate that the West Indian manatee population in Belize ranges from three hundred to as many as nine hundred.

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