Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge


9,969 Ha.
Caño Negro consists of a lake of the same name, in the southern sector of the refuge, and of swamp and marshlands, formed by alluvial sediments, which make up the rest of this protected area. Caño Negro Lake, which covers an expanse of approximately 800 Ha. and is 3 meters deep is a seasonal spill-off site for the Frío River, During the dry season from February to May. the lake almost completely disappears. leaving behind only a few small pools, secondary inlets and an arm of the river.
There are three main habitats in the refuge: herbaceous vegetation, mixed seasonal swamp forest, and mixed palm forest. The herbaceous vegetation can be seen in the lake itself, during the dry season, and along its shores. The predominant species is gamalote grass (Paspalurn fascicula turn), which grows together with dormilona (Mimosa pigra). ice cream bean (Inga edulis). and wild senna (Cassia reticulata). In the other areas, towards the outer reaches of the lake, there are clumps of vegetation made up primarily of junco (Juncus sp.), or of a mixture of junco, grasses. and cyperaceous and other species of plants. Elsewhere there are mixtures of herbaceous species together with trees and shrubs, mainly the provision tree (Pachira aqua tica), juanilama (Lippia alba), ice cream bean, swampwood (Pithecolobium longiloliurn), and wild anona (Ann ona glabra).
The mixed seasonal swamp forest borders the herbaceous vegetation and also grows in clumps throughout the refuge. This kind of forest is subject to flooding to a greater or lesser degree depending on small differences in the contour of the land. There is a variety of species, although in some places one tree in particular can be predominant, such as the manni (Symphonia globulifera) and copaiba (Copaifera aroma tica). Other trees that grow here are the cotonron (Luehea seemannhi), silk cotton (Ceiba pen tandra), mayflower (Tabebuia rosea), corozo palm (Elaeis oleifera), royal palm (Scheelea rostrata), monkey apple (Posoqueria latifolia), wild tamarind (Pentaciethra macroloba). and banak (Virola spp.).
The mixed palm forest can be found throughout the refuge where the land is always or almost always under water. Three species of palm tree -the holillo (Raphia taedigera), royal, and corozo palms- are more abundant here than in the mixed seasonal swamp forest. Together with these palm trees is a large number of trees adapted to swampy soil such as the crabwood (Carapa guianensis), manni, cotonron, provision tree, espave (Anacardium excelsurn), and wild cacao (Herrania purpurea). Two other palm trees that grow in this forest, but not so thickly, are the coquillo (Astrocaryurn alatum) and the Acoelorrhaphe wrightii palms, the latter being a new species for the flora of Costa Rica.
The abundance and variety of birds is what justified establishing this area as a wildlife refuge. Some of the flocks of birds are extremely numerous and during the dry season, it is possible to see hundreds of them perched in some of the trees or along the sand banks. Among the most prevalent or attractive birds are the anhinga (Anhinga anhinga), roseate spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja), white ibis (Eudocimus albus), northern jacana (Jacana spinosa), wood stork (Mycteria americana), jabiru (Jabiru mycteria) which is the largest bird in the region and in great danger of extinction, black-bellied tree-duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis), cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis) which perches in the hundreds in the trees that line the FrIo River, and the Neotropic cormorant (Phalacrocorax olivaceus) which is the most prevalent bird in the refuge as Caño Negro has the largest colony in the country of this species of cormorants. The refuge also protects the country's only permanent population of Nicaraguan grackle (Quiscalus nicaraguensis). This is a bird that is endemic to the basin area of Lake Nicaragua.
Some of the mammals and reptiles in danger of extinction which live in the refuge are the cougar (Fells concolor). jaguar (Fells onca), ocelot (Fells pardalis), tapir (Tapirus bairdli), and crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). Other mammal species that can be found are the howler monkey (Alouatta paiiata). spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), white-faced capuchin monkey (Cebus capucinus), collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu), white-lipped pecary (Tayassu pecan). Neotropical river otter (Lutra longicaudus), two-toed sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni), tayra (Eira barbara), and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginlanus). Turtle species. caiman (Calman crocodylus), bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas). Caribbean snook (Centropomus undecimalis) and gar fish (Atractosteus tropicus), the latter believed to be a living fossil, all find homes in the river and its channels..

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Squirrel Monkey
Squirrel monkeys are commonly seen at Caño Negro

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