Marchilio Ack receives James A. Waight Award

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Recognition for our Protected Areas Manager

On February 16th 2017, Marchilio “Moon” Ack was recognized at a ceremony where he received the prestigious James A. Waight Award for his incredible work in conservation. The award commemorates the birthday of The Belize Audubon Society’s first president – James A. Waight (1907-1999) and is bestowed upon deserving individuals based on their innovative work in environmental or social causes.

As an adventurous child journeying into the forests of Toledo along with his dad, Moon learned how to treat nature with respect and use natural resources wisely. Evidence of unsustainable resource extraction in southern Belize incited Moon’s deeply ingrained passion for conservation, and in 1998, he formed an alliance with fellow villagers, entrepreneurs and conservationists to obtain support from Fauna & Flora International and purchase a 15,441-acre strip of land connecting important forests of the Maya Mountains to southern Belize’s coastal plains. This corridor, which provides habitat for animals such as tapirs and jaguars, became the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, and the alliance formed what is now Ya’axché Conservation Trust in order to manage the protected area.

Protected Areas Manager Marchilio Ack and Ranger Vigilio Cal utilizing SMART technology that is used to improve enforcement within 3 protected areas managed by Ya’axché. | Photo: Ben Fletcher

Moon began serving as a community ranger for Ya’axché in 1999, and despite having only a primary school education, has risen professionally from a ranger to the position of Protected Areas Manager. He now leads a team of 12 rangers to protect the 15,441-acre Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, the 100,000-acre Bladen Nature Reserve and the 36,000-acre Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve. In addition to protecting habitat for jaguars, Moon collaborates with and provides training to livestock farmers who are interested in implementing key mitigation measures on their farm to reduce jaguar conflict. Moon understands the difficult issues of preserving the livestock farmers’ livelihoods whilst conserving a key predator species, which is why he has adapted his approach to consider the human dimension of the challenge.

Protected Area Manager Marchilio “Moon” Ack presenting to primary school students the importance of protected area management. | Photo: Ya’axché.

In addition to his work with Ya’axché, Moon has displayed immense leadership abilities by serving as Alcalde and Chairman of Indian Creek. In these highly regarded Maya leadership position, Moon directs the development and governance of the village. Moon’s selfless and tireless dedication to his work makes him well loved and highly respected among communities of the Toledo District. Ya’axché is privileged to be working with a professional with such an unwavering passion for conservation and community development. Congratulations Moon!

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