Biodiversity in Costa Rica
The biodiversity in Costa Rica is particularly great and is among the highest in the world. With two coasts, lowlands and mountains, the country has a large number of different habitats. In addition, many species from both continents were able to mix on the land bridge between North and South America. There are said to be 500,000 species in Costa Rica. 300,000 of them are insects. Several hundred species are endemic, so they only live here.
A third of the country is covered by forest. Costa Rica has placed around 27 percent of its land under conservation. There are around 160 protected areas. This saved rainforest from further deforestation save and even regain it through afforestation. The habitat of many animal and plant species could thus be preserved. In tourism, the state relies on nature compatibility and promotes nature-based tourism in an exemplary manner.
Which mammals live in Costa Rica?
About half of the 234 mammal species belong to the bats. The common vampire is a bat too. It feeds on the blood of other animals! The little white bat or the largest of its kind, the great spit-leaf nose, do not feed on blood.
The largest predator in America, the jaguar, has found refuge in Costa Rica. Other predators in the country are the tiger cat, which no longer occurs in Central America (only in South America), the puma, the ocelot, the long-tailed cat, the jaguarundi, the white-nosed coati and the tayra, a species of marten.
The Central American tapiris two meters long and 1.20 meters high, the largest wild mammal in the country and on the continent. The giant anteater, which particularly likes to feed ants and termites, also grows quite long. The second species of anteater in the country is the Northern Tamandua. Their little relative, the pygmy anteater, lives in contrast to its two relatives only in trees. Up there he also sleeps by clinging to his feet and wrapping his tail around the branch.
The sloths do the same. Two of the six species live in Costa Rica: the Hoffmann two-toed sloth and the brown-throated sloth. The monkeys are a little more activeswinging through the trees, such as the coat howler monkeys, Geoffrey spider monkeys, and the white-shouldered capuchin monkeys. On the southern Pacific coast there is still the Central American squirrel monkey. Pakas, like agoutis, are rodents in the country. One mammal of the water is the Caribbean manatee, a manatee.
Frogs and other amphibians
Amphibians (amphibians) also occur in large numbers, with 175 species, most of which are frogs. The country’s frogs include the red-eyed tree frog and the talamanca frog, also known as the rocket frog.
Poison dart frogs also live in the rainforest. One of them is the blue jeans frog, who looks with his blue legs as if he were wearing jeans. 13 types of glass frogs live in Costa Rica. They have a see-through bottom, so you can see their heart. Would you like to meet the giant toad? It can get 22 centimeters long and two kilograms and eats even small mammals.
Lizards, snakes, crocodiles…
Of reptiles have been counted 225 species. Numerous lizards and snakes belong to it. American crocodiles and crocodile caimans inhabit lakes and rivers. The black iguana lives high in the trees, while the green iguana likes to live close to the water, where it can sometimes slide into, because it can swim well.
Turtles in danger
Sea turtles are endangered. The clutch is sometimes robbed by animals such as skunks or raccoons. Or birds pounce on the newly hatched turtle babies. Much more often, however, the danger comes from humans. It also kills whole animals because the turtle meat is considered a delicacy and the shell’s shell is valuable. Noise and light from tourists as well as environmental pollution and the trawls of crab fishermen also affect the animals.
Four species of sea turtles can be seen laying their eggs in the Tortuguera National Park on the northern Caribbean coast. They always return to their own birth beach for this. The green sea turtle and the hawksbill sea turtle laboriously crawl up the beach between July and October, lay up to 150 eggs, carefully dig everything back up and heave themselves back into the water. The leatherback turtles do this between February and July.
The sun then incubates the eggs and if no human or animal predator has come, the newborn turtles will find their way into the water as soon as they have digged their way out of their egg.
Who is flying there?
There are 850 species of birds. 625 species breed in Costa Rica, the remaining 225 species are migratory birds. The endangered quetzal, which only occurs in remote areas of the rainforest, is particularly colorful. The males can be recognized by their long tail feathers. Fishing toucans, parrots such as the scarlet macaw and many hummingbird species (including the endemic mangrove macilia) also live in the jungle.
The Pacific coast is a haven for water birds. Pelicans, naked-throated herons and magnificent frigate birds live here, for example. The yellow owl, which in Costa Rica bears the beautiful name Yigüirro, has been declared a national bird.
What is growing in Costa Rica?
About half of the country is covered by forest. The evergreen tropical rainforest grows in deeper humid regions. In the mountains, mountain and cloud forest follow with increasing altitude. In rainforest mahogany trees grow, for example, as the Cedrela odorata and the American mahogany.
12,000 plant species have been counted in Costa Rica, including 1,300 orchid species alone. The orchid Guaria morada was named the national flower.
The national tree is the Guanacaste tree, which is easy to recognize with its short, thick trunk and spreading crown of leaves. The leaves are reminiscent of ferns, the fruits are shaped like large ears. That is why it is also called the elephant ear tree. It is very much appreciated because it casts a lot of shadows.
Strangler figs grow on another tree. They form aerial roots that eventually enclose the host tree in such a way that it dies. In the photo you can see a strangler fig that has already come a long way…
There are also many mangroves growing in the Pacific. They form the habitat of many birds, reptiles and amphibians, because their aerial roots offer good protection for young animals. Palm trees also grow on the coasts, for example manicaria palms.
What is the Austrian rainforest?
The Austrian musician Michael Schnitzler founded a nature conservation project in 1991 to protect and preserve the rainforest in Costa Rica. He bought land for this and incorporated them into the existing Piedras Blancas National Park. These freed plots are called the “Austrian rainforest”.