Archive for the ‘Colum’s Column’ Category

Colum’s Column: Sand storm in Guatemala

June 25, 2015

Two in the morning and I get this Skype noise! Colum in Guatemala. Murders, potentially rabid bats, three new parrots confiscated by authorities and dumped on his desk. That’s normal for a slow day at the ARCAS office. He tells me that he is now being bombarded by sand from the Sahara.

I asked him for evidence. He sent me this.

I am now going back to bed.

From: Colum Muccio []
Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2015 2:21 AM
To: Hugh and Midori Paxton
Subject: Sand storm in Guatemala

Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Association, Guatemala
Asociación Rescate y Conservación de Vida Silvestre, Guatemala
(cc502)5704-2563, 7830-1374

Guatemala: ARCAS wildlife release ecotours

April 11, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has participated in several wildlife releases in the forests in northern Guatemala and strongly recommends them. Just got this in from Colum.

From: Colum Muccio []
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 5:41 AM
Subject: ARCAS wildlife release ecotours

Greetings friends,

Attached I am sending you some information on a new, higher-end tour we are offering for a select few customers who want to participate directly in an animal release in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve. The tour costs $1,970 per person all included for a maximum group of four. These animal releases are real adventures; I have participated in several. Half of the fun is the monstor truck ride into some of the most remote and pristine rainforest sites you will ever see in Central America. Profits from these ecotours will be used to support ARCAS’s wildlife rescue and conservation activities in Peten. Let us know if you know of anyone interested.


Colum Muccio
Administrative Director
Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Association (ARCAS)
Address: Lote 6, Calle Hillary, Km 30 Carretera Interamericana, San Lucas Sacatepequez, Guatemala
International mail address: Section 717, PO Box 52-7270, Miami, FL 33152-7270
Tel: (cc502)7830-1374, -4273, 5704-2563 (cell) E-mail: Colum_Muccio Website:

Anuncio liberacion junio 2013.pdf

Rehabilitating a nutria/Rehabilitando una nutria

February 11, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog must pass this message on! Nutrias. Anybody out there know how to rehabilitate a nutria?

Over to Colum, our blog columnist in Guatemala! Always something special from him!

We received this nutria pup at our rescue center in Hawaii on the Pacific coast of Guatemala. if you know of anyone who has experience rehabilitating and releasing nutrias, please let us know. More details are available on Facebook at ARCAS and ARCAS Hawaii Guatemala

Recibimos esta nutria cachorro en nuestro centro de rescate en Hawaii en la costa Pacifica de Guatemala. Si conocen de alquien que tiene experiencia rehabilitando y liberando nutrias lo agradeceriamos si nos pudia conectar. Para mas informacion, ver nuestras paginas de Facebook: ARCAS y ARCAS Hawaii Guatemala

Colum Muccio
Administrative Director
Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Association/Asociacion Rescate y Conservacion de Vida Silvestre (ARCAS)
Lote 6 Calle Hillary, Km. 30 Carretera Interamericana
San Lucas Sacatepequez, Guatemala
Tel: 7830-1374, Cell: 5704-2563
E-mail: Colum_Muccio Website:

Colum’s Column: Newsletter from Guatemala

October 20, 2012

Oh, and have you seen the latest episode of the tragicomedy that is Guatemalan politics and life? The government sent police/troops to control a disturbance in Totonicapan of some indigenouse people complaining about the cost of electricity, and rather than rubber bullets and tear gas, they opened up with live fire a la South Africa, killing 9 people. 9 people!!! It’s hard to justify that as a stray bullet or accidental… This, coming from an administration headed by a general who came to power under law and order. The press cornered the Governance Minister whose response was "9 people, hell, that’s nothing in Guatemala! More people die each day in car crashes."

This administration is slowly dropping in ranking, rivalling some of the worst.

Stay tuned.

Colum Muccio
Administrative Director
Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Association/Asociacion Rescate y Conservacion de Vida Silvestre (ARCAS)
Lote 6 Calle Hillary, Km. 30 Carretera Interamericana
San Lucas Sacatepequez, Guatemala
Tel: 7830-1374, Cell: 5704-2563
E-mail: Colum_Muccio Website:

Colum’s Column: Olive ridley poached in El Cebollito, Guatemala

August 18, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog just got this from our columnist In Guatemala on more sea turtle poaching. People! At times inspirational! At times (like this) degraded things.


Tortuga asesinada, 14-8-2012BOLETINPRENSAIngles.docx

ARCAS 2011 Annual Report

June 8, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is appealing for money. Not for me but for ARCAS, a gallant Guatemala NGO that for as long as I’ve known it, has worked to help thwart the illegal trade in endangered species and rescue the wretched victims.

Guatemala is tough turf to work in. It is sometimes a violent environment, it is unpredictable, volatile and doing the right thing takes guts and tenacity.

Colum’s one of my best friends so I may be partisan but I’ve walked the sea turtle beaches and I’ve visited the rescue centre in Peten (five times) and I remain convinced that ARCAS is a splendid example of what people can do to make the world a better place. They just need a bit of help!

Please help! Colum. The scheming fiend, sent the following message to my daughter! I call that clever! If I don’t get my arse in gear and rescue a few pumas she’ll be kicking it!



From: Colum Muccio []
Sent: 08 June 2012 08:36 AM
To: Annabel Paxton
Cc: Hugh Paxton; Midori Paxton; Jane Paxton; Charles Paxton
Subject: ARCAS 2011 Annual Report

Dear Annabel,

Greetings from ARCAS. I hope everything is going well in school and you are gaining all the skills needed to become a professional monkey hugger like myself. There is no more rewarding career I can assure you. Attached I am sending you our 2011 Annual Report. I hope you like it. Could I please ask you to un-mercifully pester your parents, uncle, aunt, grandparents and anyone else within earshoot to donation a LOT of money to ARCAS this year. We are furiously trying to raise money for another feline enclosure for the rescue center in Peten as we had to turn away a confiscation of three pumas last month due to a lack of facilities. We are also raising money to buy sea turtle nests to keep the eggs out of the mouths of really disagreeable, fat, lazy Guatemalan guys who somehow think that they will make them look like Justin Beever. Let me know what you can do and come visit us sometime soon.



Colum Muccio
Administrative Director
Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Association/Asociacion Rescate y Conservacion de Vida Silvestre (ARCAS)
Lote 6 Calle Hillary, Km. 30 Carretera Interamericana
San Lucas Sacatepequez, Guatemala
Tel: 7830-1374, Cell: 5704-2563
E-mail: Colum_Muccio Website:


Colum’s column: Wildlife Seized at Bangkok Airport

April 14, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s blog just got this from Colum in Guatemala. I keep an eye on wildlife smuggling cases but missed quite a few of these.

Over to Colum:

“My god, and think of all that have gotten away!”


> Fish in bags among wildlife menagerie seized at Bangkok airport
> A dozen American Paddlefish were among 155 fish one man tried to smuggle
> past airport officials Click image to enlarge © Joachim Maller /
> Creative Commons Bangkok,
> 13th April 2012—Ever since their stunning discovery of a tiger cub
> hidden in a smuggler’s bag in 2010, wildlife authorities at Thailand’s
> Suvarnabhumi International Airport have been on the lookout for others
> attempting such crazy schemes.
> Now, it seems that vigilance has paid off.
> Critically endangered tortoises, water dragons and even American
> Paddlefish that can grow up to two-meters long, were among the
> surprising list of wildlife that unsuccessful smugglers have tried to
> slip past security at Suvarnabhumi International Airport so far this year.
> A man from Taiwan with Boa Constrictors, Emerald Tree Boas, Indochinese
> Water Dragons and several more lizards and chameleons was arrested in
> early February as he attempted to smuggle the 39 animals in his bags
> from Thailand to China.
> A few days later, an Indonesian traveler was arrested with Radiated
> Tortoises, Indian Star Tortoises and a host of other tortoises in his
> luggage.
> In the most recent case on March 17th, yet another Indonesian man was
> caught with over 155 fish in his bags, including a dozen American
> Paddlefish.
> These cases follow eight others foiled by the Department of National
> Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation officers at the same airport in
> 2011. Over 1,000 animals have been found in the 11 cases with reptiles
> topping the list of smuggled animals.
> In three of the eleven cases so far, the suspects were travelling to
> Indonesia.
> However, the highest number of animals found in one case – over 450
> individuals – was in the luggage of a passenger bound for Bangladesh.
> The animals, mostly tortoises and turtles, had been stuffed into four
> bags that had been abandoned by the smuggler at the airport in June 2011.
> Details of the 2012 and 2011 cases are listed below. However, they do
> not include seizures made by other enforcement units such as the Natural
> Resources and Environmental Crimes Suppression Division of the Thai
> Police, who found seven infant animals in hand luggage belonging to a
> man from the United Arab Emirates.
> All the cases are currently under investigation.
> “The list of seizures reads like role call for an illegal Noah’s Ark,”
> noted TRAFFIC Southeast Asia’s Regional Director Dr William Schaedla.
> “Thailand’s wildlife authorities deserve high praise for preventing this
> wildlife trafficking, and for their ability to deal with such a dizzying
> array of animals. We hope prosecution of offenders will follow,” he said.
> • 17th March 2012: A 35-year old Indonesian man bound for Jakarta,
> Indonesia, was arrested with Ball Pythons (4), Chinese soft-shell
> turtles (25), Cichlids (12), Fighting fish (50), Carp (Family
> Cyprinidae) (52) and American Paddlefish (12)
> • 13th February 2012: A 30-year old Indonesian man flying to Jakarta was
> arrested with Indian Star tortoises (8), Radiated tortoises (3), Sulcata
> tortoises (7), Leopard tortoises (5), Aldabra tortoise (1) , Black Pond
> Turtle (5) and Red-eared Slider (1)
> • 11th February 2012: A 48-year-old man from Taiwan headed to Guangzhou,
> China, was arrested with Peach Throat Monitor (1), Yellow Monitor (3),
> Ceram Mangrove Monitor (1), Argus Monitor (4), Emerald Tree Boa snakes
> (4), Boa Constrictors (5), Chameleon (5) and Indochinese Water Dragon (16).
> • 15th July 2011: A 23-year-old Iranian man bound for Tehran was
> arrested with Ruthven’s Kingsnake (1), Pueblan Milksnake (1), Corn
> Snakes (6), Ball Pythons (6), Burmese Pythons (2), Reticulated Pythons
> (5), Yellow Anaconda (1) and White Lipped Python (1).
> • 11th July 2011: A Chinese national flying from Thailand to Hong Kong
> was arrested with Bearded Dragon (1), Indian Star tortoise (6) and
> American Bullfrog (10).
> • 3rd July 2011: A 44-year-old Japanese man travelling to Sapporo,
> Japan, was arrested with four green iguanas.
> • 26th June 2011: A 26-year old Sri Lankan national was arrested at the
> Suvarnabhumi airport with 15 Grey Parrots
> • 1st June 2011: A bag abandoned by a passenger on a Bangladesh-Thailand
> flight was found with Indian Star Tortoises (35), Indian Ghavial (7),
> Narrow Headed Softshell Turtle (1), Asiatic Softshell Turtle (7), Assam
> Roof Turtles (142) and Snapping Turtles (259)
> • 8th May 2011: A 22-year-old Kuwaiti man was arrested with King snake
> (1), Corn snake (3), Long-nosed Whip snake (10), African Pygmy Hedgehog
> (1), Sugar Glider (2), Indochinese Ground Squirrel (2) and Water monitor (1)
> • 9th February 2011: A 38-year-old Indonesian man bound for Surabaya,
> Indonesia, was arrested with Argentine Horned Frog (6), King snake (3),
> Boa Constrictors (5), Ball Pythons (32), Corn snakes (2), Rainbow Boa
> (1), Hog-nosed Snake (1), Narrow Headed Soft-shell Turtles (4),
> Pig-nosed turtle (1), Ploughshare tortoise (1), Radiated tortoise (7),
> Indian Star Tortoise (88), Aldabra tortoise (3), Matamata (6), Elongated
> Tortoise (33), Bearded Dragon (19), Horned lizards (4), skinks (2),
> Finlayson’s Squirrel (22), African Grey parrot (1) and spiders (18)
> • 21st January 2011: A bag abandoned by a Filipino man was found
> containing Leopard tortoises (3), Radiated tortoises (2), Burmese Star
> Tortoises (2) , Sulcata tortoise (1), Red-footed tortoise (2), Hermann’s
> tortoise (4), Marginated tortoises (2) and Asian Brown tortoise (2)
> Ann Michels
> Species Survival Network
> annmichels
> _______________________________________________

Colum’s Column: Guatemala sea turtle survey.

December 27, 2011

Hugh Paxton’s blog is delighted to receive this post from our heroic correspondent on the state of sea turtles in Guatemala’s turbulent slice of the Caribbean. Over to the man!

Colum Muccio Wildlife Conservationist with ARCAS

Colum Muccio Wildlife Conservationist with ARCAS

Guatemala has almost no Caribbean coast. The main Caribbean port, Puerto Barrios, is protected from the ocean by the Punta Manabique peninsula which juts out 50kms in front of it from the Honduran border, one of the most remote spots in the country. The Garifuna town of Livingston is west along the shore from Barrios towards Belize.
As part of the sea turtle survey I have been carrying out, I was accompanied by my friend and fellow sea turtle conservationist, Scott Handy, an Englishman who vows never to return to England (can’t stand the cold!) and bears an eerie resemblance to Beavis.
We spent the first day taking a high-speed boat ride from Puerto Barrios to Livingston. Unlike the misnamed Pacific, the Caribbean is usually calm with fewer swell, perfect conditions for such time-honored activities as piracy and drugrunning. In Livingston, we interviewed Julio Lee, an older guy of Chinese descent and member of the local shrimp fishermen’s cooperative, and Julian Arana, of the Association of Traditional Garifuna Fishermen. The Garifuna are an ethnic group of mixed blood escaped African slaves and indigenous people who have settled the Caribbean coast from Roatan Honduras to Belize. They are cool, and we talked outside on their dirt patio under a mango tree while I could see the womenfolk in the house laboriously giving each other hair weaves.

Julio and Julian are good friends, and both are proud to be from Livingston and though they are well-travelled (there is a big population of Garifunas in New York) couldn`t consider living anywhere else. There are ethnic tensions though, and the Garifunas tend to blame the Ladinos, who tend to blame the Belizeans, who blame Guatemalans who cross the border… and if everything else fails you can always  blame the Culi (?) apparently another ethnic group of Hindu origin who many Livingstonians accuse of being the worst poachers of sea turtles, manatees, coral and queen conch.
Overfishing is an issue in the area. He claimed that a French (???) biologist went to Livingston in the 80s, and after his research, recommended to Julio that the shrimp fishing fleet not exceed 50 boats. “there are how many now?” “There aren’t any shrimp.” , and Julio claimed that the shrimp boats had not gone out to fish in five months. Some people blamed the BP oil spill.
We took a stroll up the main street of Livington and saw sea turtle shells, fan coral and queen conches (all supposedly protected) for sale in local souvenior shops. But, especially the turtle shells looked old and moth-eaten and there wasn’t any indication of an industry of jewelry making or other mass-use of these products. There were none of the hawksbill shell earrings and necklaces for sale that you see in a lot of other Caribbean countries. I asked the vendor if I could get the shell out of the country by plane and he assured me that it would be no problem.
The following day, we drove out to Quetzalito, travelling through mile after monotonous mile of banana and African palm plantations. The palm trees were loaded with clusters of fruits that are pressed and produce oil for shampoo and cooking oil. The banana bunches are covered with blue plastic bags to protect them from insects, and when harvested, are carried through the banana forest on a system of overhead rails.
After getting lost in the maze of dirt roads crisscrossing the plantations, we finally arrived on the shores of the Motagua River, where we were going to board the boat for the ride out to Punta Manabique. Excuse my French, but if Peten is the lungs of Guatemala (being the largest forest area in the region) the Motagua River is the asshole! As we neared the boat, I could smell the distinctive odor of cheap laundry soap. The shores were covered with trash and plastic bags and occasional dead animals were floating in the water. This river has its orgins in Quiche in the highlands, more than ??? kms away and passes near Guatemala City before flowing through the Motagua Valley to the Caribbean. As in many areas of Guatemala, bodies of water are seen as convenient ways of disposing of waste (out of sight, out of mind!), and, on cue, as we took off in the boat we saw a man come down to the shore and nonchalantly empty a garbage can full of trash into the river. Combine with this household waste the runoff from banana, African palm and other plantations up and down the watershed, it’s hard for anyone to legitimately point the finger.
The Motagua is a recognized problem in the area. Sea turtle conservationists in southern Belize claim that plastic waste from the river covers local beaches and prevents sea turtles from nesting, and apparently the government of Belize has filed a lawsuit against Guatemala due to the contamination. As we motored out into the ocean, there was a dead zone of several kilometers around the rivermouth with the same murky water and laundry soap smell. It was sad to see such a large and powerful river apparently devoid of any life and of no productive use to local wildlife or humans. There were no egrets or kingfishers to be seen, no fish jumping… not even the ever-present and all-invasive boat-tailed grackle!
Just thinking about how productive and beautiful the Motagua river must have been even just fifty years ago made me want to do something about, start a clean-up campaign… then performed a reality check, thinking of the hundreds of thousands of communities from Quetzalito to Quiche who like the man we just saw, views the river simply as a cheap garbage disposal service.
Once we motored out of the Motagua garbage plume, the water turned clear blue. We followed the coast east, and unlike most other coastlines in Central America, the Manabique Peninsula was refreshingly devoid of any sign of humans. Although the cattle-ranching frontier is spreading into east, it is said that there are still monkeys and perhaps jaguars in the area. Punta Manabique was declared a protected area, but as in many sites in Guatemala, that is easier said than done. Despite its protected status, hunting and fishing is still carried out without any regulation. Lawlessness is rife, and drug traffickers have bought a large farm and displaced an entire community.

During this economic crisis we are facing, an interesting term has popped up “Too big to fail” referring to the financial conglomerates with very solid-sounding names that helped create the crisis in the first place. Why can’t we adopt the same attitude to ecosystems like the Motagua River watershed? In the survey of Guatemalan sea turtle hatcheries I have been taking part in, I’ve seen similar too-big-to-fail cases. In order to travel out to Punta Manabique, which is the long peninsula across from Puerto Barrio, on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala Rio Motagua… the oceans are too big to fail, yet at the same time, too big to regulate.

Colum’s Column: Season’s Greetings from ARCAS

December 21, 2011

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is always glad to receive ‘proof of life’ from Colum, our Guatemala correspondent and dauntless conservationist. Despite the murders of his colleague’s entire family, several robberies etc. Colum is still fighting the good fight and sends all our blog readers this ‘card’.

Tarjeta de navidad ARCAS.ppsx

Colum’s Colum: Scarlet Macaws Take Flight in Guatemala

November 18, 2011

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is delighted to receive this from our intrepid Guatemala columnist!

Thanks for this amigo!

Everybody here says the same

Don’t get shot!


Over to Guatemala!!



Scarlet Macaws Take Flight in Guatemala

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