Seven years in Guatemala with Indigo Expeditions

Looking back over last seven years of conservation and research in Guatemala – let’s look at what Indigo Field Teams have achieved.

 

2013

In our very first year of working in Guatemala we ran four expeditions to Estacion Biológica las Guacamayas in the Laguna del Tigre National Park, in the Petén region. The Indigo Field Teams recorded a total of 33 new species in the National Park. This nearly doubled the existing species list for the area! One of the top finds was the banded snail-eating snake (Tropidodipsas fasciatus).

It turns out this was the first ever record of finding the banded snail-eating snake in Guatemala!

2014

We kicked off Spring 2014 with a preliminary biological survey at Community Cloud Forest Conservation (CCFC) in the cloud forests of Alta Verapaz. In just three days we recorded 21 species of amphibians and reptiles, including 5 critically endangered frogs.

Summer 2014 saw Indigo Field Teams back in Laguna del Tigre National Park researching reptile and amphibian diversity. Finding from our surveys increased the species list for the National Park to 57 species that year!

The banded snail-eating snake (Tropidodipsas fasciatus). First ever record of finding the species in Guatemala! 2013

In just three days we recorded 5 critically endangered frogs including Plectryohyla pokomchi. 2014

2015

In 2015 Indigo Expeditions ran the first conservation expedition to the cloud forests of Alta Verapaz. Indigo Field Teams made the amazing discovery of the Alta Verapaz spikethumb frog Plectrohyla teuchestes, one of the most endangered amphibians in Central America, and previously known only from one other location.

Next up, Indigo Teams spent two months back in the field in Laguna del Tigre, expanding our work to survey the local population of Morelet’s crocodile and the critically endangered Central American river turtle.

2016

2016 saw Indigo back in Laguna del Tigre to continue our work surveying Morelet’s crocodile. We pioneered techniques to identify individual crocodiles using pattern recognition from photographs and recorded 120 individuals. It was also the first year we were able to host Guatemalan biology students from Universidad del Valle de Guatemala as part of their Professional Practice.

Our research expanded to the Pacific Coast teaming up with conservation charity Asociación Fundaselva de Guatemala, to advise on sea turtle conservation at Tortugario el Banco. During 2016 record numbers of olive ridley sea turtle hatchlings were released totalling 74,500!

The Alta Verapaz spikethumb frog (Plectrohyla teuchestes) one of the most endangered amphibians in Central America. 2015

Record numbers of olive ridley sea turtle hatchlings were released totalling 74,500. 2016

2017

2017 saw Indigo Expeditions start the year with a bang and make our first appearance in a wildlife documentary. The 20 minute piece for French TV5 series ‘Vu Sur Terre’ (Somewhere on Earth) was filmed over seven days in Laguna de l Tigre National Park and focused on our work with the resident crocodile population.

And, we celebrated five years of survey work in Laguna del Tigre, which culminated in our field teams recording the 95th species of reptile and amphibian for the National Park. The narrow-bridge musk turtle was encountered in the middle of the track during a hike to the Mayan ruins of Wak’a el Peru.

 

2018

Yet another first, 2018 saw Indigo Expeditions spend three months in the cloud forests of Alta Verapaz. During that time we recorded 10 species of snake for the first time, which increased the known species at the location to 54!
 
By using digital photography we were able to identify 20 individual Rax Bolay (Bothriechis aurifer), an endangered pitviper of the Guatemalan cloud forests. 

The 95th species – the narrow-bridge musk turtle. 2017

Rax Bolay (Bothriechis aurifer), an endangered pitviper of the Guatemalan cloud forests. 2018

First record of fischers snail-eating snake. 2018

First record of the slender snail-eating snake. 2018

2019

After many years of preparation, Indigo Expeditions ran the first expedition to Estación Biológica el Banco on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala, where we support a local community sea turtle conservation project. As well as assisting with daily activities such as checking nests in the hatcheries and releasing turtles, we also got out on the beach in search of nesting females. We were successful in our mission and were able to witness the nesting process, and collected the eggs for incubation at Tortugario el Banco.
 
2019 saw the largest release of turtles ever documented in Guatemala. At Tortugario el Banco in a single week in December a total of 16,643 olive ridley turtles were released, including over 5,000 released on a single day.
 

2020

Although we’re only two months into 2020, this new decade is already setting itself up to be an amazing one. 
 
We kick it off with the airing of ‘Wild Guatemala with Nigel Marven,’ an exploration of Guatemala’s amazing habitats during which Nigel discovers some of its incredible, and sometimes astounding, wildlife. We joined Nigel in Laguna del Tigre National Park for filming, where we talked crocodiles, turtles, and burrowing toads! The programme is set to air in the next few months.

The largest sea turtle release so far at Estación Biológica el Banco. 2019

Filming on location with Nigel Marven. Photo credit: Andres Novales. 2020

CONSERVATION EXPEDITIONS