Let’s just face it! Animals in Costa Rica are one of the main reasons to come! Seeing a sloth or monkeys is fantastic! But being able to see a bigger animal like a jaguar or a tapir, Wow! It makes you smile forever!
In one of my recent blog posts, I teased saying that it’s easier to see a T-Rex than a Jaguar in Costa Rica. Interestingly enough, a picture of a jaguar in the Tortuguero Canals came out in a group of tour guides I belong to, that same day.
Another tour guide posted a picture of a jaguar on a road close to the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano about a month ago. And yesterday, it was a video of a puma, eating close to a trail in Corcovado National Park…
You may also want to read: A Dummies Guide to the Wildlife in Costa Rica
Fact: Animal sightings are more frequent now than they were twenty years ago.
Depending on where you go it is almost easy to spot a tapir.
So… The T-Rex and all that?
Well yes! As a tour guide, I learned that the secret to success is “Underpromise, and overdeliver.”
The less you promise wildlife, the more joy any sighting will bring.
The question remains… Are we to see animals or not while in Costa Rica?
Big animals, like jaguars, cougars or tapirs?
The good news is that now chances are higher than ten or twenty years ago.
Costa Rica prohibited hunting in 2012.
But this is a result of decades of protecting the rainforests and, undoubtedly of millions of tourists willing to see animals in Costa Rica.
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Now, what does that have to do with animals sightings?
Do animals make an apparition -makeup and all- because tourists want to see them?
What happens is that complete towns have shifted their economy from cattle or agriculture to tourism.
Rainforest areas that were doomed to disappear now bloom because their owner’s profit from trails, canopy tours, hanging bridges or bird watching stations put in them.
Animals in Costa Rica turned from being considered threats to be a money-making attraction if they are alive, free and well!
And hunters and poachers became tour guides in many places.
None knows better where to find the animals in Costa Rica than a poacher or a hunter right?
On the other side, faster than we thought I was going to happen, animals in Costa Rica don’t feel threatened by the human presence. Not as much as they used to.
Little by little animals that were extraordinarily rare to find are now usual sightings…
Peccaries, for instance. Nowadays you see them on the grounds of biological stations under daily basis. It is a common sight. A tapir is a usual sight for the Caribbean Aerial Tram visitors and well, yes, Jaguars are crossing the canals of Tortuguero in the daytime.
Not every day, not all the time… But animals in Costa Rica are easier to see now than in the past. And probably it will be simpler to see them in the future.
Is it fair to animals?
Some may say that it is sad that they had to become a source of income to be protected. Me? Personally? Having lived and loved the rainforests throughout my life? Well! I think it’s great!
In the past, peasants that owned a bit of a rainforest had to turn it to wood for sale and pastures for a few scrawny cows. Nowadays they put a trail and charge a bit for visitors to see it. Or make a few rooms and share with visitors the sounds and beauty of the tropical nature.
Little by little things are changing, and tourists, yes! Changed the lives of the animals in Costa Rica forever. They saved them.
As long as we create a responsible and sustainable tourism industry, there is hope for the rainforests and the creatures that live in it. Hence, for the human race to survive.
We have to follow the rules and guidelines while visiting their homes:
Slow and silent, no litter and please! Do not feed them!
They are not pets; they are wild and free animals that may easily feel threatened if you try to touch them, and that will be harmed if they eat food that is not made for them. And nature is the one that makes their food! Not human factories or plantations.
Cherish them, respect them, they are not here for us. Yet, they make our lives better and higher. And definitely more beautiful.