Introducing Reserva Biológica Lomas de Barbudal
The 26-sq-km Lomas de Barbudal reserve forms a cohesive unit with Palo Verde and protects several species of endangered trees, such as mahogany and rosewood, as well as the common and quite spectacular corteza amarilla. This tree is what biologists call a ‘big bang reproducer’ – all the yellow cortezes in the forest burst into bloom on the same day, and for about four days the forest is an incredible mass of yellow-flowered trees. This usually occurs in March, about four days after an unseasonal rain shower.
Nearly 70% of the trees in the reserve are deciduous, and during the dry season they shed their leaves as if it were autumn in a temperate forest. This particular habitat is known as tropical dry forest, and occurs in climates that are warm year-round, and have a prolonged dry season that lasts several months. Since plants lose moisture through their leaves, the shedding of leaves allows the trees to conserve water during dry periods. The newly bare trees also open up the canopy layer, enabling sunlight to reach ground level and facilitate the growth of thick underbrush. (Dry forests were once common in many parts of the Pacific slope of Central America, but little remains. They also exist north and south of the equatorial rainforest belt, especially in southern Mexico and the Bolivian lowlands.)
Lomas de Barbudal is also known for its abundant and varied wasps, butterflies, moths and other insects. There are about 250 different species of bee in this fairly small reserve – representing about a quarter of the world’s bee species. Bees here include the Africanized ‘killer’ bees – if you suffer from bee allergies, this is one area where you really don’t want to forget your bee-sting kit.
There are more than 200 bird species, including the great curassow, a chickenlike bird that is hunted for food and is endangered, as well as other endangered species including the king vulture, scarlet macaw and jabirú stork. Lomas de Barbudal is also home to a variety of mammal species, including the scene-stealing white faced capuchin, as well as some enormous crocodiles – you might want to leave your swimsuit at home.