Nicaragua’s Ramsar Sites – Part Two

The estuarine ecosystem of Deltas del Estero Real y Llanos de Apacunca in Chinandega forms part of the Gulf of Fonseca’s impressive mangrove system and is home to up to 35 species of fauna. The gulf is shared with Honduras and El Salvador and is used extensively for the cultivation of shrimp, as well as fishing and agriculture. Part of the site was declared a reserve in 1996 to protect an endemic species of wild maize, with the area being declared a Ramsar site in November 2001. Unfortunately, the site has been negatively impacted by organic and chemical waste, as well as deforestation and excessive hunting, which authorities are trying to curtail.

Located west of the San Juan River and south of Lake Nicaragua, Los Guatuzos Wildlife Refuge is listed both as a Ramsar site and a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The amazing diversity of the area, which includes tropical wetland and rainforest, is home to up to 326 bird species, 77 of which are migratory birds, plus 32 mammal species and ten reptile species. A number of the bird species resident in Los Guatuzos are considered to be endangered. The reserve includes a turtle and caiman nursery, a butterfly farm and more than 90 different species of orchid. Animals found in the waters of Los Guatuzos include caimans and crocodiles, as well as some ancient fish species such as the Atractosteus tropicus, more commonly referred to as the tropical gar. This unusual fish is long and narrow, growing up to more than a meter in length and featuring a snout and fangs which aid it in catching and eating turtles, crabs and other fish.

Along the southeast coast of Lake Nicaragua, the Sistema de Humedales de San Miguelito is an area of rich biological diversity. In addition to being home to a huge number of bird, fish, reptile and mammal species, the site recycles and purifies the water of the lake, which playing a significant role in regulating the local climate.

Other Ramsar sites in Nicaragua are the Sistema Lagunar de Tisma, Sistema Lacustre Playitas-Moyúa-Tecomapa, and Sistema de Humedales de la Bahía de Bluefields.