By Erin Wade and Staff
This World Wildlife Day, we’d like to toast the critters! The forests, streams, mountains, lowlands, and wetlands of Central America are teeming with critters—critters that need to be protected. Why? Because they’re integral to the ecosystems that people like you are striving to protect.
In Central America, deforestation is the single greatest threat to wildlife. Every year, more and more forests—which provide crucial wildlife habitat—are lost.
Forests are being destroyed and repurposed for conventional agriculture, which means replacing rich, healthy ecosystems with acres of chemically-treated crops. Everyone needs to eat, right?
Luckily, the farmers who partner with us have proven time and time again that you can have your cake and eat it, too. By which we mean, farmers can sustainably produce more than enough food for their families to survive using methods that actually preserve the environment rather than degrade it.
Through reforestation and sustainable farming practices, the farmers we partner with actively protect wildlife habitat on a daily basis. Because at the end of the day, every species needs a place to live that will sustain them in the long run.
Meet some of the dazzling critters being protected through sustainable farming.
Despite the Baird’s tapir being the national animal of Belize, many Belizeans have never seen one. Nevertheless, throughout the country, you might find Baird’s tapir crossing signs next to roads and highways.
Native to Mexico, Central America, and Northwestern South America, the endangered Baird’s tapir is in decline. Due to monumental deforestation trends, the population could experience a decline of nearly 80%. It's estimated that only 3,000 mature Baird's tapirs may be left. We partner with farmers in Belize and Panama to restore tropical forests, preserving the habitat of the Baird's tapir and other native species.
Photo by Brian Gratwicke
The blue morpho butterfly is one of an estimated 1,500 butterfly species in Panama. Experts are concerned that this species is becoming endangered. Its survival is threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation. This is especially worrisome because of the vital role the butterflies like the blue morpho play as pollinators, helping to fertilize our food supply. Yet another reason why alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture are so important!
Photo by Florence Reed
This beautiful species is more than just a bird of many colors, and certainly more than the face of a sugary breakfast cereal. There are about 40 different species widely distributed throughout Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. These creatures are imperative to the health and diversity of the rainforests—by way of their digestive systems! These birds pass seeds of the fruit they eat to the soil, which helps fertilize and generate new growth. Due to the toucan's wide range, it's considered a species of least concern. Nevertheless, its habitat is threatened by deforestation.
This species of monkey native to Central America, the Howler monkey, gets its name from a unique communication style. The male Howler monkey’s mating call can be heard from a few kilometers away. Their whooping holler is also used to locate other members of its group, especially when the discovery of fresh plants and leaves are made. This species has the benefit of being adaptable to changing environments, and its diet of plants helps, too! Maintaining a healthy and toxin-free rainforest is what keeps this species swinging!
Photo by Samuel K.
The keel-billed motmot is found in Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and (formerly) Mexico. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. Classified as a vulnerable species, this species is in decline due to deforestation.
Photo by Dominic Sherony
This spiny-tailed iguana was spotted alongside the road in the Santa Barbara region of Honduras. Large-scale agriculture and livestock grazing threaten the spiny-tailed iguana’s habitat, making this rare sighting all the more special!
These prints were spotted near the farm of a partner farmer in Stann Creek, Belize. The jaguar's preferred habitat is dense forest, where it can easily hide out and stalk its prey. Habitat loss and fragmentation are some of the greatest threats to the jaguar's survival.
Photo by Juan Cho
This blunt-headed tree snake was spotted during a night hike in Belize. These colorful snakes are arboreal and most often found in low vegetation such as coffee bushes. They prefer cool and moist areas like rainforests.
Photo by Sarah Kennedy
Planting and protecting trees has many purposes, including creating wildlife habitat for these pollinating hummingbirds in San Pedro Abajo, Panama. Since 1997, we’ve planted almost 4 million trees. Through supporting Sustainable Harvest International, you preserve wildlife habitat and ensure the well-being of the farmers that partner with us.
Photo by Maribel Ojo
The critically endangered Central American river turtle can be found across Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. This turtle primarily inhabits larger, deeper rivers and oxbow lakes throughout the year. During the rainy season, they will enter the flooded forests and travel up smaller river courses to nest. While human consumption remains the greatest threat to this species, habitat degradation is an issue in some areas. The good news is that by partnering with us, families gain access to two new regular sources of protein (turtles not included!).
Photo by John Polisar
The Cedar Waxwing is one of many migratory birds found across Central America. Verdant flora is crucial to the Cedar Waxwing, who eat sugary fruits in warmer months and insects in the cooler months. Harsh synthetic pesticides can impact the health of this species--yet another reason why organic pesticides made from natural ingredients are a good fit for entire ecoysytems.
Photo by Minette Layne
Healthy forests and sustainable farmlands are part of what makes a hospitable habitat for...dogs! We kid, we kid, but this dog curled up next to a tower of cacao pods does look pretty cozy, no?
Since 1997, we’ve partnered with over 2,800 families in Central America to preserve the environment and improve well-being through sustainable farming methods. As a result, more and more farmers are preserving wildlife habitat for generations to come. Learn more.