Earth Day is on April 22nd, and we'll be celebrating in the weeks leading up to it by posting an array of facts from a few of our environmental books each Wednesday (trivia fans, take note!). To top it off, we're offering a give-away contest for an environmental book closer to 4/22, so be sure to check back for entry details.
Today's Earth Day tidbits are from Adrian Hepworth's Wild Costa Rica: The Wildlife and Landscapes of Costa Rica. Adrian Hepworth is a wildlife photographer based in Cartago, Costa Rica.
- Scientists have recorded 240 species of mammal, 860 species of bird (which represent 8 per cent of the world's total), 221 species of reptile and 174 species of amphibian in Costa Rica. In addition, more than 10,000 species of plant have been identified with another 2,000 believed to remain undiscovered, and a staggering 370,000 species of invertebrate are estimated to live in Costa Rica, of which 350,000 are insects.
- Between 3 and 4 per cent of all the world's animal and plant species can be found in Costa Rica. This figure becomes all the more astounding when we consider that, with a land area of just 51,100 sq km, Costa Rica represents only 0.03 per cent of the world's total land surface area; it is less than half the size of England, not much larger than Switzerland or Belgium and more than eight times smaller than the US state of California.
- Among the dozens of birds and prey that live in the rainforests of Costa Rica there are five species of eagle, including the Crested Eagle and Ornate Hawk Eagle. The largest eagle of the Americas, the Harpy Eagle, may still survive in the country despite the lack of confirmed sightings in recent years.
- Since 1945, Costa Rica has built up a system of almost 250 national parks, wildlife refuges and biological reserves that cover roughly 20 per cent of its land area. The vast majority of this land is government-owned, although almost 150 private properties also account for a valuable part of the country's wildernesses.
- Almost 4 km above the palm-shaded beaches and hot, steamy jungles of the Costa Rican lowlands there is a sharp, rocky summit where no trees grow and icicles form at night. With a view of two oceans and looking down on the clouds, this mountain is the pinnacle of the Talamanca Mountain Range. At 3,819 m above sea level, Mount Chirripó is taller than any other mountain in neighbouring Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras.