Press Release - 18 January 2011 - The nature and wildlife of Belize are some of the most treasured and loved resources for Belizeans and people from all over the world, who come to enjoy the natural beauty of the country. Dr. Isabelle Paquet-Durand, a veterinarian who specializes in wildlife medicine, has devoted her life to helping the wildlife of Belize. Up until now, Dr. Isabelle has been doing her best with limited equipment and facilities and has literally had to operate out of the back of a pickup truck.
Despite the challenges, Dr. Isabelle is known by everyone who works with her as a wonderful, cheerful and dedicated veterinarian, devoted to protecting the wildlife of Belize as well as to sharing her knowledge and skills for little or no recompense. Her ambitious goal is to establish a world class wildlife hospital in Belize to care for and treat the many animals that become sick, orphaned or injured, but which could be safely returned to the wild if they received the help they needed. So, when she entered a competition run by Heska, a USA based product and service provider to the veterinary profession, called ‘Inspiration in Action’ to try and win funding for equipment to assist her in achieving her goal, she never dreamed that she might just win – especially as she was up against over 300 other excellent entrants.
Dr. Isabelle is very busy with her work, teaching students and helping to save wildlife, so little did she know that an army of supporters were urging people to vote for her entry. People from all over Belize and abroad, who love our little country and wanted to help our wild animals, voted. As a result, on the 19th of December, when the winners were announced, Dr. Isabelle came out victorious, not just a victory for her, but a victory for the country of Belize, to be recognized for the vital conservation work done here and the importance of our ecosystem to the health of the planet.
This $25,000usd award will help to start equipping what will eventually become the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic (BWRC). Not only will it provide veterinary services to the wildlife of Belize, supporting the work of the Belize Forest Department, wildlife conservation, rescue and rehabilitation groups across the country but the facilities will also be available to veterinary practices nationally, allowing them access to equipment that domestic animals, both pets and farm animals will benefit greatly from. This means that all animals in Belize will benefit, and as a result, so will people as healthier animals contribute to a healthier environment for everyone.
On Tuesday, January 17, 2012, Dr. Isabelle attended the Heska Award Ceremony in Florida, attracting international attention to this great step forward for Belize in terms of wildlife care and research.
“The $25,000US prize money is not only a substantial amount of money for this project to receive, it is a resounding vote of confidence for the wildlife organizations and veterinarians of Belize,” stated Dr. Isabelle upon accepting her award. “This prize money will enable us to begin operating a medical facility with key equipment for rescuing and treating injured, diseased, orphaned or confiscated wildlife. One of the objectives of the clinic is to provide vital assistance to the veterinary profession in Belize through medical services, education, research, and collaboration, plus veterinary training for students and professionals through continuing education and wildlife research opportunities.”
The new BWRC is strongly supported by the Belize Wildlife Conservation Network (BWCN), founded by Dr. Isabelle, which is a group of individuals and organizations dedicated to wildlife conservation and research in Belize. BWCN currently operates the Wildlife Emergency Response Team and will work closely with the Wildlife Clinic, providing support and assistance with human/wildlife conflict issues as well as their expertise to wildlife veterinarians and the Belize Forest Department.
If you would like to know more about the facilities that will be on offer, or would like to become a member of the Belize Wildlife Conservation Network, please visit www.wildlifebelize.com
For more information please contact the Belize Wildlife Conservation network at [email protected] or call 610-0400. If you are in possession of captive, orphaned or injured wildlife, please contact the Belize Forest Department on 822-1524.