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Wildlife is roaming the Mayan forests

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Wildlife is roaming the Mayan forests
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Ever since COVID-19 lockdowns put a stop to tourism, wildlife has been thriving in the heart of the Maya Biosphere, Guatemala, a UNESCO recognised reserve.

The reserve covers a fifth of the country, with El Mirador National Park at its heart. With ancient Mayan cities, tropical forests and wildlife, this territory has been the centre of conservation efforts and initiatives to make sustainable tourism the country’s biggest source of income.

AP/MANUEL VALDESMANUEL VALDES

El Mirador has been under constant threat from land clearing projects for cattle ranches, as well as narcotrafficking and wildlife poaching. But major efforts have been made to protect the park through ecotourism, with job opportunities in hospitality for local residents who might otherwise have made a living through hunting or logging.

While the current travel restrictions mean a lack of tourism draws resources away from these projects, animals are being seen more frequently, including large mammals like cats, jaguars, and pumas.

"What the coronavirus leaves me with, is that we really do affect the animals. We do affect the forest," says Gabriel Urruela, photographer and park ranger at El Mirador National Park.

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