Golfito National Wildlife Refuge

92.000 Ha.
The refuge extends over a vast alluvial plain of recent origin that is dotted with outcroppings of volcanic rock. The entire region is subject to very heavy rainfall, about 6.000 mm. a year. and the refuge itself is a mosaic of swamp forests, swamp palm forests, and mixed forests.
The swamp forests differ considerably depending on small variations in the contour of the land. The predominant tree species that grow here are the bloodwood (Pterocarpus officinalis), crabwood (Carapa guianensis), wild tamarind (Pentaclethra macroloba), provision tree (Pachira aqua tica), cativo (Prioria copaifera), and holillo palm (Raphia taedigera). The swamp palm forests are usually flooded all year round and are made up primarily of holillo and manicaria (Marncaria saccifera) palms, although in some places there are unmixed holillo groves. Other species that grow in this habitat are the wild tamarind, crabwood, sajo (Campnosperma panamensis), Santa Maria (Calophyllum biasiliense), haguey (Gnas fendlen), cotonron (Luehea seemanli), wild fig (Ficus sp.), Arnanoa potan2ophylla and Xylopia sericophylla. The mixed forests grow above the swamps. especially on the hills of volcanic origin. Some of the species that grow here include the wild tamarind, which is very abundant, caivo, banak (Virola sebifera), cotonron, monkey's comb (Apeiba aspera), and the stilt palm (Socratea durissirna).
There is a wealth of wildlife, although few studies have been made so far. Some of the endangered species that live in the refuge are the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), tapir (Tapirus bairdli), cougar (Fells concolor), jaguar (Felis onca), jaguarundi (Felis yagouaroundi), and ocelot (Fells pardalis). Other mammal species in the refuge include the white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecan), paca (Agouti paca), red brocket deer (Mazama americana), which can sometimes be seen at the edge of the channels, collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu), southern opossum (Dideiphis marsupialis), gray four-eyed opossum (Philander opossum), three-toed sloth (Bradypus vaniegatus), howler monkey (Alouatta paiiat) and white-faced capuchin monkey (Cebus capucinus).
Some of the birds that live in the refuge are the keel-billed toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus), great green macaw (Ara arnbigua), osprey (Pandion haliaetus), great tinamou (Tinarnus major), least grebe (Podiceps dominicus), great curassow (Crax rubra), Neotropic cormorant (Phalacrocorax olivaceus), anhinga (Anhinga anhinga), great blue heron (Ardea herodias), tricolored heron (Egretta tricolor), green ibis (Mesembrinibus cayennensis), white hawk (Leucopternis albicoiis), sungrebe (Heliornis fulica), short-billed pigeon (Colurnba nigrirostris), and red-bred amazon (Amazona autumnalls).
There are three species of reptile that live in the refuge: the iguana (Iguana iguana), the caiman (Caiman crocodylus), which has a large population in the estuaries and rivers, and the crocodile (Crocoylus acutus), which is an endangered species throughout the country. There is a wealth and variety of fish in the lakes, rivers and estuaries. Some of the more prevalent species are the gar (Atractosteus tropicus), which is considered to be a living fossil with the appearance of a crocodile and a spectacular spawning ritual, the tarpon (Megalops atlanticus), a huge saltwater fish which can be seen in large schools at certain times during the year. the guapote (Cichlasoma dovil), the Caribbean snook (Centropomus undecirnalis), mackerel (Scorn beromorus maculatus) and snapper (Lutjanus jocu).
Much of the refuge can be visited by navigating the vast network of rivers, channels and lakes that cross through it, making it easy to observe the wildlife that inhabits the banks and shores, especially waterfowl, river turtles, monkeys and sloths.

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Small creek in the Golfito Refuge