Spanning a 20-mile (32-km) stretch of the Belize River, the reserve was established in 1985 by a group of local farmers. The black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra)—an agile bundle of black fur with a disturbing roar—was then zealously hunted throughout Central America and was facing extinction. Today the sanctuary is home, on some 200 private properties, to some 2,000 black howler monkeys, as well as numerous species of birds and mammals. Thanks to ongoing conservation efforts countrywide, you can see the howler monkeys in many other areas of Belize, including at Lamanai in northern Belize, along the Macal, Mopan, and Belize rivers in western Belize, near Monkey River and around Punta Gorda in southern Belize. You will also see howlers, along with spider monkeys, at Tikal. Exploring the Community Baboon Sanctuary is easy, thanks to about 3 miles (5 km) of trails that start near a small museum and visitor center. The admission fee includes a 45-minute guided nature tour during
which you definitely will see howlers. Some guides may ask you to pay extra to hold or pet the howlers—this isn't appropriate, and don't encourage it. Other themed tours—birding, canoeing, crocodiles—are priced à la carte, although the admission per couple is little more than the per-person rate.