Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge

The Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge is a wetland formed by the Polochic River delta in Lake Izabal, the largest lake in Guatemala. The wetland’s wildlife is abundant, more than 250 species of birds as well as important populations of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish can be found within the Refuge.

Bocas del Polochic_1
Crédito fotográfico: Roberto Quezada
Bocas del Polochic_2

Bocas del Polochic is the area with the highest number of manatees (Trichechus manatus) in the country; it is also sustains a large population of howler monkeys (Alouata pigra) and river otters (Lutra longicaudis). In total, the refuge is home to 39 species of mammals (including all five feline species present in Guatemala), 138 species of reptiles and more than 53 species of fish. Including its terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, Bocas del Polochic covers an area of 20,760 hectares (51,299 acres). (207.6 km2).

The reserve has been under the administration of Defensores since 1996. The refuge is recognized as a wetland of international importance by the RAMSAR Convention. RAMSAR.

The wetland functions as a filter that traps nutrients, sediments, pollution and pathogens from the Cahabón and Polochic rivers. As a result, the pollution of the water produced by the valley industries and the inhabitants (almost one million people) is significantly reduced before flowing into Lake Izabal, which in turn empties into the Dulce River, to reach the Caribbean Sea.

Approximately 5,500 mostly indigenous people live in eight communities surrounding the wildlife refuge. They benefit directly from the ecological advantages offered by the wetland, such as clean water, fertile land, firewood, raw materials and fishing. We work with local people to protecting the refuge through education and social development, helping them improve their quality of life in harmony with the environment.


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