Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge
Nest of life
Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge is a wetland formed where the Polochic River flows into Guatemala’s largest lake, Lake Izabal. It has been under Defensores de la Naturaleza management since 1996, when it was declared a protected area and recognized as an important wetland in the international RAMSAR convention. The wetland works as a filter that traps nutrients, sediments, contamination, and pathogens from the Cahabón and Polochic Rivers.
As a result, the pollution caused by the river valley industries and the inhabitants (nearly a million people) gets reduced before the water empties into Lake Izabal, which flows into Rio Dulce, toward its destination in the Caribbean Ocean.
The protected area boasts the highest number of manatees (Trichechus manatus) in the country and is considered the biggest observation site for this species in the Gulf of Honduras. It is home to 326 species of birds, 49 mammals, 25 reptiles, 11 amphibians, and over 89 fish species. Including land and aquatic ecosystems, the Wildlife Refuge covers an extension of 51,300 acres (207.6 km2).
Approximately 5,500 people, mainly Mayan ethnic groups, live in the communities surrounding the Wildlife Refuge. They benefit directly from the ecological advantages the wetland creates, such as clean water, fertile land, firewood, raw materials, and fishing. We engage the local population through educational and sustainable programs that increase the livelihoods and help protect the environment.