Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on 5th May each year to commemorate Mexico’s victory over France during the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It is a celebration of Mexican heritage and symbolizes the country’s ability to defend its sovereignty against a powerful foreign nation.
There are so many things Mexico can be proud of as a nation and one of these is the country’s resources. Simon Thurley’s Heritage Cycle put in the context of Cinco de Mayo explains that by understanding the heritage people will value it, by valuing it they will want to care for it. By caring for the heritage it will help people enjoy it and from enjoying it comes a thirst to understand further. When we understand that our wildlife is our heritage, we will value it. By valuing our wildlife, we will want to care for it and this will help people enjoy the wildlife. From enjoying the wildlife will come a thirst to understand more about this natural resource and how we can preserve it for posterity.
Did you know that there are one hundred and one endangered species of animals in Mexico alone, and out of these, eighty-one are endemic and can be found nowhere else in the world. If they go extinct in Mexico, they are gone for good. Agriculture, logging and land development for residential or commercial use remain the worst perpetrators of wildlife habitat destruction.
To celebrate Cinco de Mayo as a festival of Mexico’s heritage, we can involve the whole family and make preservation of one of the country’s best resources a reality. This can be the day of which we speak out on the destruction of the animals’ natural habitat and create awareness on the dangers of rendering these species extinct. Preservation of our endangered species would make a lovely theme for the celebration.
Some of the animals in most danger can be divided into the following categories:
Cats – among them the jaguar found in the lowland rainforests and the bobcat found in Central Mexico.
Monkeys – the mangled howler monkey of Southern Mexico, the Guatemalan black howler found in the lowland tropical rainforest and the Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey found in parts of Mexico.
Marine – the Vaquita, a species of the porpoise found in Mexico’s Gulf of California and the Coahuila Box Turtle found in Central Coahuila.
Birds – short-crested coquette, a tiny hummingbird found in a small area in Guerrero and the Harpy Eagle found in the rainforests of South Mexico.
Rodents – San Quitin kangaroo rat which sadly hasn’t been spotted since 1986 and is now feared to be extinct.
Even as we take the time to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, let’s also take the time to create awareness during the festival so the next generation takes care of these and other endangered animals. Some of the ways we can do this is by:-
Pictures – encourage students to find and collect as many pictures of the endangered animals as possible, and begin a scrapbook which they can share with friends and family and raise awareness about the dangers of the animals becoming extinct.
Visit the zoos – as part of the festivities of Cinco de Mayo, take it further and organize visits to zoos where many endangered species are preserved and kept safe. A good example is Chapultepec Zoo where giant pandas, California condors, and Mexican wolves are found. Zoologico Guadalajara is home to the Jaguars, Bengal tigers, Morelet’s crocodile and Komodo dragon. Africam Safari is home to white tigers, golden eagle found on Mexico’s flag and Tuxtla quail-dove. Zoo Leon has seven of the animals that aren’t found in any other zoo in Mexico, and these are warthogs, Amur Leopards, flying foxes, mongoose lemurs, Kamchatka bears, sloth bears and raccoon dogs. The shops at the zoos will most certainly have little figurines, calendars, notebooks and other collectibles which would be a good reminder of the visit, and the money collected is usually used for the general upkeep of the zoo.
Writing Essays – teachers and parents can go ahead and encourage children to write essays about their visits to the zoo and have them collect as many postcards of the endangered animals as they possibly can find. Turn these into a scrapbook or pin them on the walls and notice boards to be shared with friends and family.
Adopt an animal – As part of the festivities, have the children ‘adopt’ an endangered animal and be encouraged to add this to their hobbies. Encourage them to learn as much as possible about the animal they have adopted and share this knowledge with others. This will make them value the animal and so start learning early enough, how to keep the animals safe and protected from extinction.
Cinco de Mayo can be more than just eating, drinking and dancing, it can also be a platform to create awareness on the preservation and conservation of Mexico’s wonderful natural resources, among them the world’s endangered species. Make the next one count.
For further reading, visit the following sites: www.traveltips.usatoday.com/list-endangered-animals-mexico-63882.html, www.earthsendangered.com/profile.asp, www.businessinsider.com/mexico-has-most-threatened-species-4?UR=T.