Ranger Conversation: Apolonio Kus

Apolonio Kus
Originally uploaded by Ya’axché

Apolonio Kus is one of the four newest rangers at Ya’axche, hired on January 12 of this year. Born in San Miguel, he moved to the local Golden Stream Village when he was five years old. Apolonio is married, and he and his wife Felicita have a four year-old son, Leonardo. Prior to joining Ya’axche, Apolonio worked in construction as a mason and carpenter, but when he saw signs posted for ranger vacancies he came out for an interview.

On his last patrol out into the Bladen nature reserve, he and his team were working to reestablish the boundary between BNR and other local land holdings — the BFREE Field Station, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Maya Mountain Forest Reserve — by locating old signs, clearing bush and, as he adds with a slight chuckle, “collecting ticks.”

Along the trail, the team’s expert eyes spotted a couple very dark feathers lying on the mud. A little digging showed a full bird’s worth of feathers buried under some leaves just off the trail. They had belonged to a great curassow, a near-threatened species native to the area. Unfortunately I’m told they’re delicious, and while hunting them is not illegal in Belize extracting any plant or animal from any of Belize’s three nature reserves is. So the team made a record of the incident and recorded their location on GPS. Future plans invlove electronically mapping hunting and extraction incidents so as to better plan patrol routes for intervention.

White-lipped Peccary

White-lipped Peccary

Apolonio’s favorite part of his job is going out on patrols, and seeing animals grazing peacefully in their natural environment is one of his favorite activities. But even this can be dangerous in the jungles of Toledo. While eating lunch on a riverbank one day, Apolonio and his team heard some peccaries a little ways away. They quietly walked toward a clearing where they saw 30 animals grazing. The men watched the group for a while before being spotted. One animal let out a soft “harumph” and suddenly 50 more animals appear in the clearing from the forest. This is not good. These groups are proficient in killing jaguars and fer-de-lances. Three guys with machetes won’t stand a chance if the pigs decide to charge. So the rangers high-tailed it out of there, each climbing the nearest tree they could. After some time, Apolonio decides to climb down and he starts banging his machete against some rocks. Eventually they do leave.

When I asked whether the peccaries were scared away by the noise or simply left because they chose to, Apolonio shrugged, raised his eyebrows and said, “I don’t know.”


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