Belizean zoologist, Tony Garel has won the prestigious James A. Waight Award, for 2015. The award is presented each year by the Belize Audubon Society to a distinguished Belizean conservationist.
James Waight’s grandson, Mica James Del Margo, presented the award to Garel at a special award ceremony at the Chateau Caribbean in Belize City on Monday, February 16.
Garel has spent the past 25 years working at the Belize Zoo, and Zoo Founder/Director, Sharon Matola praised Garel at the ceremony.
She said what she admired and respected most about Tony Garel was his passion, his strong commitment to share his love for the animals, reptiles, birds and mammals of Belize with as many Belizeans and other people as possible.
Garel has pioneered a breeding program for the endangered Green Iguana at the Zoo, and he is now starting a similar program to save the endangered Hiccatee turtle.
He is about to launch his new book, “A Field Guide to the Snakes of Belize”, which will be published by BRC Printing of Benque Viejo. The colorfully illustrated 75-page volume will cover 63 species of snakes. It is due out early next month.
Garel has always been involved in helping to rescue another endangered animal – the Jaguar, and works closely with the Forest Department on this project.
The Belize Audubon Society established the James A. Waight Award in 1987 to honor Belizeans who have made a significant contribution to the conservation and protection of the Belizean environment. The Belize Audubon Society has honored 27 men and women since then.
James Aloysius Waight, the man who inspired the award, was a pioneer in Belize nature conservancy, and along with his wife and lifelong companion, Lydia, he helped to establish the Belize Audubon Society in 1969. He was elected Audubon’s first president, serving from 1969-1986. His wife became the BAS’ first secretary.
The Belize Au-dubon Society has grown to become an important national institution.
His Majesty King George VI recognized Mr. Waight’s service to Belize by awardng him the OBE.