Belize is a small country with a large heart, and fortunately, a great deal of it is dedicated to preserving the county's extraordinary biodiversity. Approximately 40% of the country is protected, maintaining homes for Belize wildlife like the tapir, the toucan, the jaguar, and many other endangered species. Here's a selection of some of Belize's largest and lushest wildlife sanctuaries, where travelers just might catch a glimpse of these remarkable creatures, while helping protect them as well.
That's right -- jaguars! The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary & Jaguar Preserve in southern Belize was the world's first wildlife preserve dedicated to protecting these elusive cats (and a whole host of other species). Pictured, a set of jaguar tracks I saw when I stayed at the nearby Kanantik Reef & Jungle Resort.
Approximately 30 minutes north of the Belize International Airport in Ladyville, the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is known as the best birding spot in Belize, if not in Central America. Wetlands, waterways and lagoons make up the preserve, which is home to many endangered species, including the Mexican Black Howler Monkey, Morelet's Crocodile, the Yellow-headed Parrot, and most famously, the jabiru stork -- the largest flying bird in the new world (pictured).