Getting to Know the CER: A close-up of Bajo del Tigre

 

Costa Rica's only fox, the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) is able to climb trees and can be easily spotted in Bajo del Tigre.

Dear Rainforest Friends,

One of the comments that I have heard from many visitors to Costa Rica is concerning the amount of development that has occurred there in the last 5 to 10 years. Before the strong tourism boom, the beaches were not lined by 25 story resort hotels, there were very few paved roads and tourist activities were still evolving. There are advantages to development, of course, but it is important to achieve a precise balance to maintain the genuine qualities of a place.

An orchid bee (Euglossa sp.) visits porterweed (Stachytarpheta frantzii) in a native plant garden near the visitors' center in Bajo del Tigre.

The advantage about the CER, however, is that it has attained this balance. Bajo del Tigre, one of the CER’s four access points, boasts well maintained trails still criss-crossed by strangler fig tree roots, trail signs designed by local volunteers, an updated map and trail guide that makes it easy to learn about and navigate the forest, and a lower volume of visitors that allows for a personal connection with the environment. It is easily accessible to anyone who wants to visit, but still upholds the goal of rehabilitating and conserving one of Costa Rica’s rare ecosystems.

Among the many mammals living in the Children's Eternal Rainforest is the tayra (tolomuco in Spanish). This weasel relative is comfortable climbing trees and is strongly omnivorous. This tayra was spotted with another individual in Bajo del Tigre on the Bellbird Trail.

Bajo del Tigre is a small sector of the CER located in Monteverde; a forest patch isolated from the rest of the reserve on the Pacific side of the Tilaran Mountain Range. It receives a lower average rainfall than the cloud forest at a slightly higher elevation, which leads to more extreme seasonal changes and less epiphytic growth in the canopy. It is a secondary forest, meaning it is a recovering habitat in one of its successional stages. As a result, the canopy is not as high or thick as a primary forest, which allows for greater visibility when searching for wildlife. Plant and animal communities specific to its habitat are also found there due to a combination of factors, including less rainfall and a lower elevation as compared to the genuine cloud forest.

Not only is Bajo del Tigre a beautiful environment, but also a great place for children and families to learn about tropical forest conservation. Volunteers, many working with the MCLUS, constructed a hands on environmental education station near Bajo del Tigre’s entrance called the Children’s House. Families can also participate in hikes lead by local guides for a reasonable price, the most popular being the night hikes run daily from 5:30pm-7:30pm.

The CER is a very special place, and even more so once you are able to experience it up close. At Bajo del Tigre you can enjoy thrilling wildlife sitings, a beautiful tropical forest environment, and other great features that will immerse you in the largest private reserve in the country. All proceeds made at the Bajo del Tigre trails are used for the CER’s operational costs, so the more visitors the reserve has, the better!

Succulent Orchid, Bajo del Tigre
The steep, seasonally-dry slopes descending from Bajo del Tigre into the Maquina and Guacimal river gorges harbors a fascinating plant community that includes agave-relatives and a variety of terrestrially growing orchids. This orchid, Lycaste brevispatha, protects itself with spines on its succulent stem, and loses its leaves during the dry season to reduce water loss.

The beautiful photographs included in this post were generously taken by Richard V. Joyce, a Monteverde community member and neighbor of the Bajo del Tigre trails. For more information, please visit the Bajo del Tigre web page on the MCL website or write to info@acmcr.org.

For the Forest,
Mia Roberts

 

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