Piedras Blancas National Park (Costa Rica)

Piedras Blancas National Park (Costa Rica)

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 21:57
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Piedras Blancas National Park, located in southern Costa Rica, protects over 34,000 acres of evergreen primary forest, indigenous plants and wildlife. The park is home to a number of rare tropical trees and is the habitat for many species of birds, reptiles and mammals.

Piedras Blancas National Park

Piedras Blancas National Park is located in the Puntarenas Province of southern Costa Rica, near the town of La Gamba. It protects 14,019 ha (34,642 acres) of evergreen primary forest, indigenous plants, and wildlife.

Lying on the Southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, this national park is situated in Golfito, on the northeast coast of the Golfo Dulce.

Neighboring the Golfito National Wildlife Refuge, the Piedras Blancas National Park connects with the Corcovado National Park to form and safeguard an important and ecologically diverse biological corridor in the Golfo Dulce.

Due to its humid and hot climate with over 5,000 mm (200 in) of rain annually, the rugged mountains and watersheds of the Esquinas and Piedras Blancas rivers are covered in dense evergreen tropical rainforests.

The area that is Piedras Blancas National Park today, was initially a section of the Corcovado National Park known as the Esquinas Sector. It became a separate park in 1999. Until the mid-90s, much of the area was privately owned and the forest in the park was severely endangered by logging.

Some of the parklands have remained in private hands. However, a charitable organization, Rainforest of the Austrians (Regenwald der Osterreicher), has been raising funds and purchasing land which, up to 2008, had moved 37 square km (14 sq mi) of land in the area into public ownership.

The Costa Rican government, the hydroelectric company Tenaska (carbon offset joint implementation), The Nature Conservancy and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation have also purchased land in Piedras Blancas, bringing the total protected area within the park to more than 80%.

Flora and Fauna

Piedras Blancas National Park is home to a number of rare tropical trees and is the habitat for many species of birds, reptiles, and mammals, including five species of cats: the ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, puma, and jaguar.

Austrian researchers studying the mammals of the park in 2003 and 2004, compiled a list of 96 species sighted or caught in camera traps. They include 14 species of carnivores (raccoons, coati, kinkajou, olingo, skunks, grison, tayra) and five species of cats (jaguar, ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, and puma).

Two-toed sloths are rare in the Esquinas forest but can be found in the coastal areas around Golfito. Around 20 years ago, the giant anteater was seen for the last time by local hunters, but it is extinct today. The northern tamandua has been sighted and the silky anteater was recorded in the mangroves near Golfito.

White-faced capuchin and squirrel monkeys are often seen in the lodge garden, whereas howler monkeys are usually heard and seen on the Golfo Dulce coast and spider monkeys have been regularly sighted since 2006.

Five species of American opossums have been recorded, including the Mexican mouse, the gray four-eyed, and the common opossum. Rodents include the agouti paca and several species of mice, squirrels, and rats.

With 53 different species, bats are the richest mammal group in Piedras Blancas NP. Most of the species are fruit eaters like Artibeus watsoni and Carollia perspicillata. The vampire bat is a real blood-feeding animal and was found foraging in open habitats near La Gamba.

Considered by many to be one of the best bird-watching parks in the country, the Piedras Blancas National Park is an important gathering point for many birds from North and South America.