Nature in Focus: Costa Rica’s endangered species
Costa Rica’s endangered species do exist despite it’s reputation for sustainability and eco-friendliness, this week we look at three animals fighting for their survival.
Costa Rica’s endangered species are numerous although maybe not talked about as much as it’s biodiversity and commitment to sustainability so as we creep into autumn and slowly retreat indoors, we thought we’d take your attention across the globe to a much warmer place – Costa Rica – for this week’s, Nature in Focus.
Situated in Central America, sharing both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean as its tropical oceanic boundaries, Costa Rica is world renowned for its wildlife, rainforests, and biodiversity. Amazingly, accounting for less than 1% of the Earth’s land mass, Costa Rica holds roughly 5% of Earth’s biodiversity which includes up to 500,000 species of flora and fauna. Unfortunately, all is not well in this tropical and subtropical paradise.
With current estimates up at around 250, the number of endangered and threatened plants and animals grows by the year. Due to deforestation, improper natural resource management, and illegal hunting and trapping activities, Costa Rica finds itself in a race against time to save as many of these biological wonders as possible.
Central American Squirrel Monkey
The Squirrel Monkey is listed as vulnerable, and in Costa Rica due to deforestation and poor tourism management in the past, the population of Squirrel Monkeys have decreased as an overall trend since the 1970s. Additionally, because of the negative impact of the pet trade industry, these little guys have seen better days. Living in large groups of up to 15-20 members, these little guys can be recognized by their tiny profile and white masked face.
The Jaguar is the largest Central American carnivore and is listed as one of Costa Rica’s endangered species. Historically, these majestic predators could be found as far north as Arizona and New Mexico of the United States, and south all the way to Argentina. Today however, their range has been substantially reduced due to habitat fragmentation, livestock and agricultural production (being hunted because of killing livestock), and generally as a result from poachers selling their pelts. In Costa Rica, the main reason for their decline is from habitat fragmentation. Costa Rica holds a sizable concentration of these keystone animals but their rate of disappearance is alarming.
The Leatherback Turtle spends most of its life in the depths of the ocean, only swimming to shore for their annual and spectacular ritual of mating on the beaches at night. This vulnerable species has historically utilized the Costa Rican beaches as one of its main nesting stops. Due to human activities such as fishing and the development of coastal regions, these historic turtles are declining faster than ever in the Pacific.
Fortunately, many of Costa Rica’s endangered species are now being protected in intricate connected networks of parks and protected areas due to the concern and collaboration between local populations, governmental agencies, sustainable tourism operators and interested stakeholders worldwide.