The Flora and Fauna of Costa Rica

Costa Rica in Spanish means “rich coast’. The country has a wealth of natural diversity and within in its boundaries it contains rainforests, mangrove swamps, cloud forests and coral reefs. Despite being small it is claimed that the country contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity.

The dense tropical rainforest

The tropical climate of the country which is hot and wet means that this creates ideal growing conditions for vegetation. This produces the variety and density of vegetation that grow. In the country there are 10,000 different trees and plants that can be found in the country. This produces a huge food resource that many animals can survive on. There are over 35,000 species of insects, 160 species of amphibians, 220 species of reptiles, 850 species of birds, and 205 species of mammals. There are few other countries that can boast such flora and fauna in a relatively small area.

The country protects 25% of its area with 26 protected parks, 20 national parks, 9 forest reserves, 8 wildlife refuges, 7 wildlife sanctuaries and a national archaeological monument. The rainforests dominate the general landscape and are home to the majority of the flora found in the country. There is a continuing battle for light on the forest floor with plants attempting to grow quickly in order to reach the light, or adapt to the conditions they are trying to survive in. Many of the worlds endangered of species of flora are found in Costa Rica, plus it is certain there are many species that are yet to be discovered.

The other area with a great abundance of flora is the mangrove swamps. They are found between the land and the ocean. The climatic and soil conditions are totally different from the ones that are found in the tropical rainforest, yet they still produce great varieties of plants that are able to survive in salty conditions. Turtles are among the most endangered species and of the seven varieties that survive today, five nests on Costa Rican beaches. The Tortuguero National Park provides the perfect protected environment for green turtles, leatherback turtles, hawksbill turtles and loggerhead turtles to nest.

The Golden Toad

The country has an enormous variety of different species of frogs. The red eye tree frog and the poison dart frog are a couple of the rarest and most interesting frogs that survive. Despite the country’s efforts to protect nature it has been unable to help the golden toad. The golden toad which was only found in Costa Rica, suffered from changes in the weather patterns due to El Nino which produced rare drought conditions in the central mountains. There has not been a sighting since 1989. Within 1 year the numbers spotted had decreased from 1500 to 1 and now it is feared that the toad has been lost forever.

Another species in jeopardy is the jaguar which roams freely in the protected parks. It is the largest of Central America’s carnivores and used to be found in mangrove and lowland areas. However, dwindling numbers and population pressure has seen the numbers of the cat fall alarmingly and only in protected areas does it still survive. Despite the undoubted beauty of the country there is no doubt that are certain areas that man would not wish to get lost in. There are thousands of poisonous snakes, spiders, insects and other types of creatures.

The Fer-de-Lance snake is found in Corcovado National Park and has a triangular head with a diamond pattern. It is a viper and its bite can be fatal. It is only one of many poisonous snakes that are found, and some are easily identifiable such as the Eye-Lash Viper snake which is bright yellow and just as lethal.

Costa Rica’s nature is amazing but needs to be conserved and protected constantly. Eco tourism brings in much needed wealth into the country and much of this is used to manage these sensitive areas.