BFREE’s new film, Wings of Hope, was released on YouTube in August. The 20-minute documentary chronicles the re-discovery of a population of wild Harpy Eagles in the Maya Mountains of southern Belize. The film showcases the history of the BFREE and University of North Carolina, Wilmington initiative born from this discovery – the Integrated Community-based Harpy Eagle and Avian Conservation Program. Created by Emmy-award winning filmmakers, Richard and Carol Foster of Wildlife Film Productions, and narrated by Jacob Marlin, this film is rich with breath-taking footage of adult and juvenile Harpy eagles and other wildlife and vistas found in the pristine tropical forests of the Bladen Nature Reserve. Over the seven year duration of the project, the Fosters followed project trainees William Garcia, Liberato Pop, Alejandro Cholum and Thomas Pop as they work to learn about and attempt to save this rare bird and its diminishing habitat.
“The story captures the essence of BFREE’s mission. I think of it as a model for integrating science, education and conservation.” Jacob Marlin, Executive Director of BFREE.
In August the film was posted to YouTube – watch it here – and in early September 2015, the film was shown in fourteen schools and community centers throughout southern Belize in order to raise awareness of the significance of continuing to protect wilderness areas like the Bladen Nature Reserve and the greater Maya Mountains. The film has also been submitted to Cinema Verde, an international environmental film and arts festival in the U.S.A. and we hope to submit it to the 2016 Belize Film Festival.
Dr. James Rotenberg of UNCW and BFREE staff members published an associated article in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology detailing the finding of the first record of a Harpy Eagle Nest in Belize.
James A. Rotenberg, Jacob A. Marlin, Liberato Pop, and William Garcia (2012) First Record of a Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) Nest in Belize. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology: June 2012, Vol. 124, No. 2, pp. 292-297
Dr. Rotenberg says of the film “ ‘Wings of Hope’ shows how a small non-profit, collaborating with scientists, universities, zoos and government agencies can truly make a difference. The Harpy Eagle project is a great example of boots on the ground conservation – – working with animals and outreach to people. This documentary will go far to change attitudes and behaviors about nature.”
Liberato Pop of Bladen Village was trained through the project and since that time, he has worked all over Belize doing bird research using expertise gained from the years of experience gained as an avian technician for the project. In a recent interview Mr. Pop stated, “As an Avian Technician at BFREE, I am very excited about the Harpy Eagle film and the work we have done. I think that many students and parents will find this video interesting and be willing to learn about the value of what we have in our protected areas.”
Abidas Ash, Alejandro Cholum, Alan Romero, Frank Perez, Henry Perez, Liberato Pop, Macario Coy, Marlyn Cruz, Pedro Pop, Roni Florian, Sipriano Canti, Thomas Pop, William Garcia, and Wilfred Mutrie