Languid three-toed tree sloths, predatory cougars and jaguars, and glittering emerald magnificent quetzals are at home in orchid-strewn cloud forests of this mountainous Central American country bordering Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Honduras has more of these high mist-shrouded habitats, where moisture is so pervasive it is known as “horizontal precipitation,” than anyplace else in this part of the hemisphere.
Cloud forests make up about one-third of the country’s 100 protected national parks and wildlife reserves which stretch from Caribbean to Pacific coastlines. Others are in humid lowland jungles; still others are in thick mangrove and marine parks with beautiful coral reefs and endangered manatees. In total they cover all the country’s eight major life zones, with some 9,600 square miles (25,000 km2) earmarked for eventual protection.
Spotted ocelots, giant anteaters, and howler monkeys are among mammals little-seen elsewhere, and there are 700 species of birds, including rare harpy eagles capable of seizing and carrying off monkeys and tree sloths.
A devastating hurricane hit Honduras in 1998, but the country has gradually recovered. Constant threat, exacerbated by that disaster, is deforestation which at least until recently was proceeding at a rate of 1,150 square miles (3,000 km2) a year. Conservation has conflicted also with cattle ranching, coffee plantations, tourist development interests, and settlement and agricultural needs of a growing population, expressed often in slash-and-burn clearing that has caused widespread forest fires. Conservation activist Jeannette Kawas was murdered in 1995 in the process of declaring Punta Sal a national park.
RÍO PLÁTANO BIOSPHERE RESERVE as well as...
Cusuco National Park
Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge
Pico Bonito National Park
Punta Sal National Park
La Tigra National Park
Cayos Cochinos Marine Reserve
More about the Reserves in honduras
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