The Maya Rainforest

Amazing Fact:

There are 333 different species of birds in the Maya rainforest!

Dr Diane speaking about the wildlife you find in the Maya rainforest


Page Content:


The Maya Rainforest

The Maya rainforest is located in Guatemala and extends into Mexico and Belize. The area was recognised by UNESCO in 1990 (Maya Forest Biosphere Reserve) and extends over 35 million acres. After the Amazon, the Maya Forest is the largest remaining tropical forest in the Americas.

Pyramids at the Maya city of Tikal, Guatemala

The area contains over 200 species of trees, over 300 species of birds and 100 species of mammal, including the jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, howler monkey, spider monkey, tapir and over 60 species of bat! Examples of birds are the ocellated turkey, crested eagle and ornate hawk-eagle and great curassow. The area provides refuge for many endangered species such as the scarlet macaw and harpy eagle.

The early morning mist at Tikal, Guatemala

More than 100 species of reptiles including the river turtle, crocodile and 38 species of snake have been recorded. The most venomous is the Fer-de-lance, one of the most aggressive and deadly snakes in the world.

Pyramid at Tikal, Guatemala

If you want to learn what it is like to be on an archaeological dig in the rainforest have a look at my day in the field:

Some of the wildlife in the rainforest


Children’s Work

Work sent in by Torriano School, London and Middlemarch School, Nuneaton


Resources to Download

Please note – you will need to use your personal, rather than your school’s email address to download these files, as most schools disable the ability to receive items from outside their domain. 

In addition the video files are too large to upload into the slide show – you can find them and other rainforest videos on my youtube channel.

These resources were written by teachers on a CPD trip with Dr Diane to the Maya area.

Lesson Plan 1 – Discuss what a rainforest environment is like and show pictures and video clips of the types of wildlife that live there

Lesson Plan 2 – Discuss the difficulties of sustaining a civilization in a rainforest environment.

You can access the complete scheme of work for a small fee, in the form of a donation to the charity Chok Education, which supports the education of Maya children.

And there is more…

Learn about the Maya rainforest and its wildlife:

Dr Diane presents with images, audio and video clips what it is like to work and live in the Maya rainforest. She also discusses the magnificent achievements of the Maya in the rainforest, what an archaeologist does and some of the artefacts she has discovered and how they have helped her understand more about the Maya and their environment.

80 minutes of class time required.

An example of the videos that are shown in the presentation

Other Resources on the Rainforest

The Rainforest Alliance: This excellent resource has a children’s slideshow on the Guatemalan rainforest, as well as online games, activities such as colouring in rainforest birds, mammals, reptiles and plants and also virtual storybooks.

Manny Manatee and the Mystery of the Murky Water, Life in San Miguelito and Alex Goes Exploring in El Imposible.

Maya Archaeology of Mesoamerica Resource: Reports on Maya Archaeology, for example the Foundation for Latin American Anthropological Research has books concerning plants utilized by the Maya, flowers, caves in Mesoamerican culture, incense, sacred food and drink, bats in Maya culture and Maya art rollouts of vases.

The Science Museum of Minnesota presents Maya Adventure: This site highlights science activities and information related to ancient and modern Maya culture. Featured in the project is information from two exhibits about the Maya – Cenote of Sacrifice and Flowers and Saints and Toads.

A Visit to the Butterfly Farm, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Dr Diane has worked with the Butterfly Farm in producing its Maya exhibit, which includes Maya sculptures dotted around a rainforest environment.

A Maya queen with a blue morpho butterfly resting on her hand.

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