Whenever people mention Costa Rica, it is inevitable to think of the exuberant rainforest and its wildlife. As a matter of fact, the country concentrates around 5% of the world’s biodiversity and it is home to nearly half a million species. It is important to note that almost 300,000 of them are insects, and the rest are reptiles, mammals, amphibians and birds.
Today, some of the country's most beloved animals are threatened by loss of their habitat and relentless hunting. Nevertheless, the nation has gone through great lengths to revitalise its wildlife and has successfully established hospitals and rehabilitation centers. In addition to this, 28% of the country is protected in national parks, reserves and wildlife refuges.
As so many efforts have been invested in preserving the natural habitats of so many species, it is no wonder why Costa Rica fauna is a focus of attention. Moreover, hundreds of artists, photographers and craftspeople have used fauna as an inspiration for their creation. Here, we’re posting some of our favorite mammals for your enjoyment!
Jaguar (or cats in general)
This truly majestic cat species is in serious danger of extinction, so projects are being developed to conserve it and reduce deforestation. In the past it inhabited the entire territory of Costa Rica, but unfortunately they are now limited to specific protected areas such as Guanacaste National Park, certain areas of Tortuguero, Corcovado and the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge. They also live in the Amistad Biosphere Reserve in the Cordillera de Talamanca.
For the Bribris, an indigenous community in Costa RIca the tapir is a symbol of wisdom, life, survival and identity and they describe it as the sister of the god Sibö. This animal, which can weigh up to 300 kilos, is also an endangered species. It is usually a little difficult to see tapirs in the wild, because of the decimation of their population.
In 2014, the manatee was declared by the Legislative Assembly as a symbol of the marine fauna in Costa Rica. The majority of Costa Rica's manatee population is found in Tortuguero National Park and also to the northeast, in the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge in Limón, while to the south of the Caribbean it is possible to occasionally see some individuals in Gandoca, Manzanillo.
People are often left without words when they see a crocodile. It is territorial, fast and often found in rivers, mangroves, lagoons and beaches. Although it is never a good idea to have a close encounter with one. To see them at a prudent distance, it is better to go to the Tárcoles River and watch them from the height of the bridge on Route 34 on the Southern Coastal Highway. Keep in mind that you should never throw food at the crocodiles.
Seeing a sloth moving along the ground from one tree to another is quite a sight. It is almost as if time does not matter for them. They move at their own pace Sloths are so popular that they have become a social media phenomenon, often garnering thousands of likes on numerous platforms. Both species of sloths (two and three-fingered ones) are present in different parts of the country.
The ideal place to see sloths is the Sloth Sanctuary, located near Cahuita, in the Caribbean. It is a refuge for rescued sloths and offers guided tours. However, if you don’t fancy moving long distances to see these cuddly critters enjoy their slow life, you may find a couple of them on the University of Costa Rica campus.
In Costa Rica you can see six of the eight species of sea turtles in the world. Not only you have the chance of being face to face with green, leatherback and hawksbill turtles - you can also witness turtle hatchlings. These are among the most fantastic events in nature, and it is something people should see at least once in their lifetime.