The Los Katíos National Park has great biological wealth and holds a privileged role in the South American continent's biogeographical history. An exceptional biological diversity is found in the park, which is home to many threatened animal species as well as many endemic plants.
The Los Katíos National Park has great biological wealth and holds a privileged role in the South American continent's biogeographical history. An exceptional biological diversity is found in the park, which is home to many threatened animal species, as well as many endemic plants.
Contiguous to the much larger Darién National Park of Panama which is also a World Heritage Site, these two areas together protect a representative sample of one of the world’s most species-rich areas of moist lowland and highland rain forest, with exceptional endemism.
The topography of the Los Katios National Park is diverse, with low hills, forests and wet plains comprising its total area. Extending over 72,000 ha (178,000 acres) in northwestern Colombia, the park is located in the Colombian mountain zone up to an elevation of 600 m (1,968 ft) and encompasses significant wetland areas, including the extensive Ciénagas de Tumaradó. The floodplains hold exceptionally fertile soil and consist of alluvial plains of two types. One consists of low-lying terraces that flood often and the other has high terraces that seldom flood.
The park is home to around 450 species of birds, some 25% and 50% respectively of the avifaunas of Colombia and Panama. Los Katíos is unique in South America for the large number of typically Central American species found in the park.
It is the only place in South America where a large number of Central American species occur, including threatened species such as the American Crocodile, Giant Anteater and Central American Tapir. Its geographic location in northern Colombia made it a filter or barrier to the interchange of fauna between the Americas during the Tertiary. It is thought to be the site of a Pleistocene refuge, a hypothesis supported by the high proportion of endemic plants.