The Iguana Project at the San Ignacio Hotel And Learning to Eat Termites
Though you might not know it by just driving by, the San Ignacio Hotel Resort sits on quite a few acres of really beautiful jungle leading down to the Macal River. There are plenty of trails but you are going to want to get one of the hotel guides to lead you a 3 minute walk to the Green Iguana Project.
A very cool program initiated by the hotel to educate guests, Belizeans and especially children about this native animal and how they (especially the “shes”) need to be protected in the wild.
Green iguanas are purely vegetarian (unlike the more common “Wish Willys” on Ambergris Caye) and considered good eats in Belize…they are often referred to as “Bamboo Chicken”. The most prized eating is the pregnant female hunted in the spring for her meat and her eggs.
I am not one to judge but seems to me that hunting pregnant animals is, as Belizeans say, “bad style”. Mature females can carry up to 80 eggs…and, well, you can see how killing them is dangerously diminishing the population.
But let’s get to the tour…
Here is our guide Eddie pointing out a good sized termite nest. Apparently, if you are lost in the jungle, you are going to want to eat these nasty albino ants. Wild mangos, bananas, maybe tasty berries…or a nice roasted pheasant? No. You must learn to eat termites.
If you like radishes and the feel of an ant popping between your teeth, you are going to LOVE termites. My face might not say it but DELISH!
He led us over to the screened in enclosure that holds over 75 iguanas and a smaller area filled with saw dust where the ladies were digging and burying their eggs.
Gomez is the alpha male. The dad of all the hatchlings. King of the roost. He is also considered tame…and doesn’t seem to mind being touched or held. His girlfriends? Not so much. One gave me a few gentle whips with her tail. Maybe telling me not to get so handsy with Gomez?
During the mating season (early winter), the males become a deep shade of orange. The ladies like it. This one still has a bit of his orange color.Eddie let us feed them chaya so we could get to know their “different personalities”.
Pretty cool. Kids would absolutely love meeting these iguanas and learning about the program…to hold and feed the iguanas definitely would make it harder to shoot one out of the trees. And as a protected species here in Belize? That’s a very good thing.
On the walk back to the hotel, we spotted 3 huge male iguanas sunning in the trees around the hotel. Also spotted were two fruits that are interesting to me. Mostly because the names are so…ummm…interesting.
Here is the tapaculo or “butt plug” fruit. The pepto bismal of the jungle…might be useful after you’ve gorged yourself on termites.
And Cajones De Caballo. Enough said.