Animals

British Army Unit Captures Rare Photographs Of Belize Jungle Wildlife

Rare images of mountain lions, jaguars and ocelots have been captured by a British Army wildlife monitoring programme.

British Army personnel have captured rare photographs of endangered wildlife in the heart of the Belize jungle.

The British Army Training Support Unit Belize (BATSUB) and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) have been working with conservation charity Panthera to protect local habitats.

They are in the area as part of a three-year programme to ensure essential military training doesn’t disturb the local wildlife.

After camera equipment was destroyed in fires last summer, newly installed cameras have captured images of rare animals in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserves. 

Drawing on the Army and DIO's knowledge of the local terrain, the cameras picked up on the previously unseen movements of big cats and other wildlife.

It was found that training had little impact on the animals and their presence in the Belize jungle actually deterred illegal poaching and logging, making it safer for wildlife like monkeys, jaguars, and tapirs.

A tapir caught on camera in the Belize jungle (Picture: MOD).

Defence minister Jeremy Quin praised the findings and the Army for the work it was doing.

"The dedication and teamwork between British Army Training Support Unit Belize, Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Panthera demonstrates the diverse and far-reaching benefits of UK Armed Forces operating around the world," he said.

"This is another example of the resourcefulness of our Armed Forces and their partners: their efforts have shown the conservation benefits of our Belize jungle training."

Panthera, which is dedicated to the conservation of big cats in the wild, thanked the Army for its help in the area.

"I want to thank British Army Training Support Unit Belize and Defence Infrastructure Organisation on behalf of Panthera for providing the extremely useful replacements of the damaged camera units to our project," said Panthera Lead Research Biologist Emma Sanchez.

"We value the relation with British Army Training Support Unit Belize, as an example of how an important international stakeholder collaborates with the Belizean conservation community and Government of Belize in a shared responsibility and sustainable use of protected areas."

BATSUB has been present in Belize since 1994 where its often unpredictable and difficult training gives troops the opportunity to train on challenging terrain.

Cover image: A jaguar caught on camera in the Belize jungle (Picture: MOD).