Utría National Natural Park (Colombia)

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Utría National Natural Park (Colombia)

Fri, 03/29/2019 - 12:58
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Utría National Natural Park contains diverse flora and fauna in a lush, mountainous rainforest with some of the highest rainfall in the world. Located on Colombia's Pacific coast, the park overlaps indigenous territory and includes fishing villages along the coast.

Utría National Natural Park

Utría National Natural Park is located in Colombia's Pacific/Chocó Natural Region. It contains diverse flora and fauna in a lush, mountainous rainforest environment with some of the highest rainfall in the world, at up to 10,000 mm (390 in) annually.

Located on Colombia's Pacific coast, the National Park overlaps the territory of the Emberá indigenous people, who have well-preserved cultural traditions. There are also fishing villages of Afro-Colombian people along the coast.

Both groups are strongly oriented towards conserving the environment. The local indigenous people and members of the coastal Afro-Colombian communities provide eco-tourism services.

Utría National Natural Park was created in 1987. It has an area of 54,380 ha (134,400 acres), including protected marine and land areas. Elevations range from 0 to 1,400 m (0 to 4,593 ft) above sea level. The park covers part of the Baudó mountains. The Condoto, Condotico, and Valle rivers and the Mundúquera stream originate in the park.

The climate is warm and humid, with temperatures of 23 to 30 °C (73 to 86 °F).[3] The average annual sea-level temperature is 28 °C (82 °F). There is rain on over 300 days yearly, with the highest rainfall in October and the least in February.

Flora and Fauna

Coral reefs along the shore contain 11 of the 16 species of coral recorded in the Pacific region. About 81 species of mollusks have been reported, including the Eastern Pacific giant conch (Lobatus galeatus) and ark clams (of the genus Anadara), which provide food to the local communities.

There are also over 180 species of fish, ranging from tiny goby fish to the enormous whale shark (Rhincodon typus).

Sea turtles come to the beaches in nesting season. The olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) is the most common turtle nesting on the Cuevita beach. There are sporadic records of other turtles, such as the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas).

Common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and oceanic dolphins of the genus Stenella are present year-round. Occasional visitors include sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), killer whales (Orcinus orca), and Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus). Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) visit from June to November. They use Utría Cove to give birth from August to October.

Trees in Utría National Natural Park include timber species such as cohíba, the symbol of the Chocó Department, níspero, comino, abarco, ceiba, carbonero, guayacán, caracolí (used for building coastal boats), and oquendo (used by the black and indigenous communities for making crafts).

There are also palms, such as chontaduro and mil pesos which are essential food sources for the local populations, and iraca, used to make crafts. There are medicinal plants, and seven of the ten mangroves are found on the Colombian Pacific coast.

Fauna in the forest includes jaguar (Panthera onca), cougar (Puma concolor), brocket deer (genus Mazama), white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), collared peccary (Pecari tajacu), mantled howler (Alouatta palliata), black-headed spider monkey (Ateles fusciceps), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus), lowland paca (Cuniculus paca) and Central American agouti (Dasyprocta punctata).

There are many reptiles and amphibians, as well as about 380 species of birds in all forest strata, a very high level of diversity.