Tapanti National Wildlife Refuge

The Tapanti National Wildlife Refuge (extension 4715 Hectares) is located in a region that is characterized by its rugged terrain that is crisscrossed by numerous rivers, canyons and waterfalls as a result of the heavy rainfall and almost constant cloud cover. It is estimated that 150 waterways originate in this refuge.

The vegetation is composed of very dense primary forest with medium-size evergreen species. The tree trunks are completely covered with mosses, liverworts, lichens, ferns, bromeliads and other epiphytic plants, and they are always wet, even when it does not rain for several days because of the phenomenon of foliar condensation.

Some of the most common trees are oak (Quercus spp.), alder (Alnus acuminata), which is especially abundant on the riverbanks and sometimes in the rivers themselves, winter's bark (Drimys granadensis), sweetwood (Nectandra sp.), lancewood (Ocotea sp.), cypress (Podocarpus sp.), didymopanax (Didymopanax pittierl), elm (Ulmus mexicana). poro (Erythrina costaricensis), bloodwood (Vismia baccifera), and small lemon (Siparuna sp.).

There are also 18 species of tree ferns, and orchids and vines are abundant. One unusual-looking plant found on the slopes and in forest clearings is the poor man's umbrella (Gunnera sp.) which has the largest leaves of any plant in Costa Rica.

There is a great wealth and variety of wildlife in the refuge, but the animals are difficult to see, with the exception of birds and butterflies which abound.

Due to the high humidity and the mild temperatures in the refuge, there is a large population of anurans. Some of the more frequently observed species are the giant toad (Bufo marinus), Bufo melanochioris, Agalychnis annae, which was first described based on specimens gathered in TapantI, Eleutherodactylus fleishmanni, Hyla tica, H. pseudopuma, H. debilis, Rana pipiens and R. warschewitschii).

The Tapanti region forms part of the Talamanca Mountain Range. one of the most extensive mountain systems in the country. The formation of this range began in the Eocene, some 40-60 million years ago. Volcanic activity first, and the phenomena associated with plate tectonics setting shaped the range some 3-5 million years ago. The range is mostly made up of plutonic rocks, vulcanite and sedimentary rocks.

Biologically, the wilderness area of Tapanti is not very well known. There is a small dam in the refuge to produce electricity.

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Waterfall in Tapanti
Waterfall inside Tapanti Refuge

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