Field Instructor: Joe Kreuzman - Online Component: Mike Kessler
Assistant Instructors: Eirik Moergen, Amanda Smith
This is a 3-credit hybrid course available through the University of Vermont that begins with an online component to introduce and prepare students for their trip to Belize where they will engage wildlife researchers regarding the development of an international wildlife corridor for the jaguar and track with the researchers in the field. Additionally, tropical ecosystems, Mayan civilization, and human influences on biodiversity will be explored. During the online component students will be introduced to local and regional wildlife corridor planning and receive tools to enhance their awareness of the presence of wildlife through their tracks. The online component spans approximately four weeks with a workload equivalent to a 1-credit course.
During 2014 Spring Break students fly to LaMilpa, Belize to track in the tropical jungles and learn of the rich Mayan cultural heritage. Through interaction with indigenous wildlife trackers and biologists, students will apply the tools and skills learned during the online component to search for the elusive jaguar and tapir. The indigenous wildlife trackers will also share the medicinal and practical uses of their native plants and how anthropogenic threats influence planetary balances. An active Mayan archaeological site dated to 400 B.C. will be visited along with tracking in the world’s first Jaguar preserve. Overall the students will gain perspective on international wildlife management decisions and how they directly relate to large mammal travel corridors and the species in their own backyard.
- Wildlife Biology
- Wildlife Conservation
o Assist resident trackers and biologists with their local research projects
o Gain a complete understanding of the biology of the local mammals and their relationship to eco-region management by the establishment of international and inter-agency cooperation
o Develop a sense of the natural rhythms of the jungle and how these relate to wildlife management policies and international large mammal travel corridors
o Track or spot a jaguar in the wild and/or examine a fresh jaguar kill site
o Understand the history of wildlife conservation initiatives in Belize including past challenges that have been overcome, current challenges and opportunities, and the overall process through which Belize is moving forward internally as a nation and externally with the international community
o Acquire an expanded worldview through tracking and field experiences taking the student through time from 400 B.C. to present day cutting edge wildlife sanctuary research
o Internalize the impact of North American commerce upon Central American ecosystems and their sustainability
§ For example, the student will gain an appreciation of the inter-relationship of all things and conceptualize in real time just how small the planet is; e.g. bananas and coffee we eat for breakfast in Vermont, grown in the rainforest, affect the migration routes of our backyard songbirds and thrushes thus requiring proper ecological/international management practices for sustainability
o Propose positive steps in North, Central, and South America that could lead to potential solutions to Central America’s wildlife corridor conservation issues
Cost: $1508 plus airfare