Wildlife of Guatamala
Guatemala is a land of extremes. Along with the highest mountains and some of the wildest landscapes in Mesoamerica, Guatemala is the most populated country in the region. The Petén, the northern part of the country, is home to vast lowland tropical forests, wetlands, and Maya ruins, as well as the Maya Biosphere Reserve. The largest protected area in Mesoamerica, the reserve was established in 1990 to safeguard approximately 6,000 square miles of Guatemalan forest containing more than 95 species of mammals and 400 species of birds.
According to the IUCN, Guatemala is considered the fifth biodiversity hotspot in the world. The country has 14 ecoregions ranging from mangrove forest (4 species), in both ocean littorals, dry forests and scrublands in the eastern highlands, subtropical and tropical rain forests, wetlands, cloud forests in the Verapaz region, mixed forests and pine forests in the highlands.
Over one third of Guatemala (36.3% or about 39,380 km²) is forested (2005). About half of the forests (49.7% or roughly 19,570 km²) is classified as primary forest which is considered the most biodiverse forest type. Tree species include 17 conifers (pines, cypress, including the endemic Abies guatemalensis), the most in any tropical region of the world.
Sierra Caral is the single most bio-diverse forest remnant in Caribbean Guatemala, and is an unparalleled centre of endemism for amphibians, reptiles, and insects. It is probably the top conservation priority for acquisition in the country, and possibly in the Caribbean slope of northern Central America.
- To see a good amount of wildlife, you need to get well INTO the jungle. On our 2002 trip to El Mirador and Nakbe, we saw a lot of monkeys, birds, exotic butterflies, bats, some turkeys, an agouti, a fer-de-lance and some jaguar tracks. I also found the spiders interesting, but not threatening.
- I agree that the Petén around Tikal is an awesome place to see wildlife. When there in July 2003 we saw coatis, those beautiful turkeys (oscillated?), silver/gray foxes, spider monkeys, howler monkeys (ROARING!), oropendolas, toucans, aricaris, and several kinds of parrots and butterflies.