Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica

Tortuguero National Park (TNP) was created on September 24, 1970, to protect the most important green turtle nesting beach in the Atlantic. Since the creation of TNP, green turtle populations recovered somewhat even when individuals from this population are being heavily hunted in Nicaragua. This shows the importance of protecting a sea turtle nesting beach.

However, TNP also is an example of another conservation story, that of flagship or umbrella species. Although the National Park was created to protect charismatic green turtles (the flagship species), it was expanded in 1980, 1995, and 1998 and ended up protecting over 312km2 of rainforest, estuarine, and marine habitats inhabited by thousands of other species of the Costa Rican flora and fauna, some of which are as or even more endangered than green turtles themselves. All other species protected in TNP are under the green turtle conservation “umbrella”.

Nowadays, 1% of the protected area is used for tourism. Be it walking through the jungle and the beach or navigating the canals or marine area, one can experience the biodiversity that this National Park became a haven for. The Park is home to some 734 catalogued species of plants, 442 bird species, 138 mammal species, 118 reptile species, 58 amphibian species, and 460 arthropod species. Some of the more emblematic fauna include three species of toucans, three species of monkeys, wild cats like jaguars (Panthera onca), Pumas (Puma concolor), and Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), and other terrestrial mammals like wild boars and tapirs (Tapirus bairdii).