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article imageMaya villagers burn down American Crocodile Sanctuary in Belize

By Igor I. Solar     Sep 8, 2010 in Environment
Belize City - A crocodile conservation and education sanctuary run by a US couple in Belize has been destroyed and burnt by local people upset about the disappearance of two children.
Vince Rose, 48, and his wife Cherie, 44, a biology graduate from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, established in 2004 a sanctuary for the protection of two croc species found in Belize: the vulnerable American (Crocodylus acutus ) and the endangered Morelet's crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii).
The Roses set up the Sanctuary on 36-acres of land near the town of Punta Gorda, Toledo District, on the Caribbean coast in southern Belize.
Part of Front Street in the town of Punta Gorda  Toledo District  Belize.
Part of Front Street in the town of Punta Gorda, Toledo District, Belize.
Gerry Manacsa
They built a two-story octagonal-shaped house on stilts and constructed two smaller cottages to accommodate visiting researchers and students. They also dug out two acres of ponds for the crocodiles.
Their house was completely destroyed and burnt by angry Maya villagers from a settlement about 16 Km away who had been told by a local psychic that the American couple had fed two missing children to the 17 crocodiles they currently hold at the sanctuary.
According to the local police the indigenous Maya decided to attack the compound after a psychic told them that the Roses were responsible of the disappearance of 9-year-old Benjamin Rash and his 11-year-old sister Onelia, who have been missing since August 7.
The Roses were not home at the time of the attack. They had been working on the rescue of three crocodiles on a distant island at the time.
"It was like something out of a Frankenstein movie," Cherie Rose said Tuesday. "If we'd been home, they would have killed us. They said they were going to chop us up and feed us to the crocodiles."
The couple has vowed to stay in Belize and continue their efforts towards the conservation of the crocodiles.
More about Belize, Crocodile sanctuary, Indigenous maya, Vince rose
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