fauna

Balam: Jaguars in Guatemala

The Maya had great respect and reverence for the jaguar, which they called balam. Jaguars were a symbol of power and strength and were believed to act as mediums for communication between the living and the dead. Scientists have been studying jaguars in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, but luckily, you don’t need to go traipsing through the jungle to see one: Guatemala City’s excellent zoo has jaguars, as does Petén’s ARCAS wildlife rescue center.

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Puerto Rico’s Coqui Tree Frog

There is one sweet sound unlike any other that you can hear throughout the island of Puerto Rico at night, and that is the song of the coqui tree frog. Rarely seen but often heard, these tiny translucent amphibians are the beloved mascot of the island.

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Belize’s War Against Lionfish

The Caribbean region’s coral reef has been battling an invasive, voracious, and predatory fish—destructive enough that it can devastate an entire reef system: the red lionfish (Pterois volitans). Belize is no exception. Countrywide, the war against the spread of lionfish is ongoing; here’s how Belize is fighting back.

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Puerto Rico’s Paso Fino Horses

Although not indigenous to Puerto Rico, the Paso Fino horse is closely associated with the island because it was here and in the Dominican Republic where the Spanish conquistadors first introduced the mixed-breed horse. The Paso Fino are superb saddle horses thanks to their unusual gait, high level of endurance, great agility, and remarkable obedience.

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Guatemala’s Land Mammals

Guatemala’s list of native land mammals is impressive, with a large variety of exotic cats, primates, and other furry creatures. Here’s a little about popular and common species, along with when and where you’re likely to sight them.

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Monkeys in Costa Rica

The liveliest and most vocal rainforest tenants, there are four species of monkeys found in Costa Rica: the white-faced (or capuchin), howler, spider, and squirrel. Their daily habits are as varied as the wide range of habitats they occupy, from the rainforest canopy to the scrubby undergrowth of the dry forests, though each species has its own niche and the species seldom meet.

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Animals Found in Costa Rica

Anyone who has traveled in the tropics in search of wildlife can tell you that disappointment comes easy. But Costa Rica is one place that lives up to its reputation. Costa Rica is nature’s live theater—and the actors aren’t shy. Learn about the hundreds of animals you’re likely–and not–to spot in Costa Rica.

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Ocean Safety in Hawaii

More people drown in Hawaii than anywhere else in the world. But don’t let the statistics deter you from enjoying the ocean! Use common sense along with these tips for respecting both the ocean and the creatures that live in it to stay safe.

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Featured Travel Guide

Moon Guides Author Spotlight

Elizabeth Linhart Veneman

Elizabeth Linhart Veneman has always viewed growing up in Northern California as both a blessing and curse. There is so much to see, do, and experience all within a short drive—from broad sequoias in the Sierras to ancient lava beds north of Mount Shasta, from creaky Gold Rush towns to the pampering Wine Country—that she began to wonder why anyone would ever leave.

Elizabeth was eventually lured out of the Golden State to Alaska’s far north, where she traveled the Inside Passage, baked bread under the midnight sun in Denali National Park, and chronicled the state’s burgeoning sustainable agriculture for Alaska Magazine. These adventures culminated in penning the travel guide InsightGuides: Alaska.

But Elizabeth knew her California roots were too deep to stay away for long. Raised in Carmel, where her great-great grandmother opened the first restaurant (a soup kitchen with dirt floors!) at the turn of the 20th century, she would always call California home. So she returned and devoted herself to writing about the state she loves most. Her work has included the travel guides SmartGuide: San Francisco and InsightGuides: San Francisco, as well as reporting on food and sustainable agriculture for local publications.

Elizabeth Linhart Veneman is the author of several Moon travel guides, including Moon California and Moon Napa & Sonoma.