Managing the Wilderness: A Chat with Iberostar’s In-House Biologist
Anyone who has stayed at one of our Caribbean properties has witnessed the diverse and colorful animal and plant life that create so many memorable moments for our guests. It’s not exactly wilderness, though, as Saúl Juan Solano, our in-house biologist in charge of the Management Unit for Wildlife Conservation at Mexico‘s Iberostar Paraíso, explains.
Have you been “wild” about animals since you were a child?
Yes, that was when I first got interested in learning about and understanding certain aspects of nature. This led me to become a biologist, specializing in ecology and wildlife behavior, as well as in the sustainable use of natural resources.
What do you like most about being part of the Iberostar family?
Being able to work in a place that cares about conserving natural environments; that promotes policies compatible with protecting the environment; having the right channels that allow me to do my job efficiently and effectively; being part of a diverse and pleasant team; these are some of the reasons why I’m proud to be part of Iberostar.
Could you describe the biodiversity of Iberostar Paraíso?
Basically, it consists of a natural setting where flora and fauna interact. Among native flora, we find the typical palms that characterize tropical jungle environments, as well as diverse tree species that include Manilkara zapota (sapodilla, a.k.a. the chewing gum tree) and Brosimum alicastrum (“ojoche”, or Maya nut), a highly important species in Maya culture. Local fauna is represented by diverse bird, reptile, fish and small mammal species, among them the coati, the tzereque, and the howling monkey, all of them species with a unique behavioral repertoire that enhances the enjoyment of our jungle scenery.
What is a typical day like for you? What is your routine?
The cool thing about working with nature is that not everything is predictable, so that every day we must be prepared to address the different challenges our fauna presents.
Among other things, my work consists of keeping the Iberostar jungle fauna in optimal health, so that it satisfies our guests’ expectations. This involves a series of activities that range from daily monitoring of animals in the field to quality control in the diets of certain species, as well as maintaining structural and hygienic conditions in our shelter areas.
Properly managing the care of our collection of native and exotic fauna, however, doesn’t mean working in the field exclusively; there’s also work behind the desk. That’s where I plan and analyze our short-, medium- and long-term strategy, as well as establish relationships with wildlife management institutions, contact providers of specific veterinary services, and maintain a detailed log of fauna-related activity, which we also rely on to prepare reports for the Mexican Secretary of the Environment. We also offer environmental support to any departments that need it, and provide our guests with information on a daily basis about the animals that inhabit our neck of the woods, so to speak.
In your opinion, why is it so important to respect our planet’s biodiversity?
Basically, because the biodiversity we currently know is the result of a process of millions of years of evolution; and because the loss of one component can drastically alter an entire ecosystem. Likewise, biodiversity is directly linked to people’s health and quality of life; therefore respecting and guaranteeing its continuity must be a priority for all.