Visiting Manuel Antonio National Park was like becoming a wildlife photographer. All around were animals: in the trees, on the trails, hanging from signs. Just amazing. It was exhilarating to capture on camera the antics of the different monkeys and sloths we encountered.
For the size of the country, it packs a punch in the biodiversity department. Home to 4% of the world’s species, Costa Rica has over 500,000 species, with many unique to the humid jungles of the southern Pacific coast. In this particular jungle we saw three monkey species, two sloth species, deer, raccoons, lizards, and birds. However, that does not begin to cover all the other wildlife that only comes out at night or the more shy animals that hide in the depths of the jungle.
Like many places, Costa Rica is working to balance the needs between a growing demand in development and the wildlife that calls the jungle home. Costa Rica protects 25% of their land under the national park system, with additional land protected by wildlife refuges, national wetlands, and biological reserves. The Environment and Energy Ministry manage the parks and strongly encourages community participation. One way the public is encouraged to contribute to the conservation of the jungle is through a program that gives farmers funding to support the planting of trees and their management as a way to stop the clearing of land for cattle. The money to support the program interestingly comes from a gas tax.
Costa Rica’s strong stance towards wildlife conservation and protection is admirable. This a place that other places can look to for inspiration and lessons on how to protect wildlife habitat while also considering the needs of development.
Source & Further Reading about Costa Rica’s Biodiversity:
INBio Costa Rica: Biodiversity and Conservation