Curú Hacienda and National Wildlife Refuge is situated on the southeast part of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, Central America. It was established in 1933 by Federico Schutt de la Croix, and it was originally purchased on October 1, 1933 for 12,000 Costa Rican colones. The area was owned by and purchased from Pacific Lumber Company, a foreign entity that logged the area for valuable tropical trees such as mahogany, rosewood, and cedar. The area was transformed into a multiple use, sustainable development project that included selective timber harvest and agricultural activities including rice, beans, corn, plantains, and later mangos and teak plantations. Cattle grazing also became an important activity, but would later be scaled back as conservation and ecotourism efforts began to be implemented. Doña Julieta Schutt de Valle arrived in the area as a schoolteacher in the early 1950's. She taught at several schools on the Nicoya Peninsula. When she came to teach the children of many families that worked and lived in Curú she met Frederico and they later married each other. They would later have three children, Adelina, Luis, and Frederico, all of which are implementing several programs related to monkey and marine conservation, as well as sustainable use activities such as managing small mango and teak plantations.
In 1974, part of the hacienda was settled by squatters, which led to converting part of the hacienda into what is currently known as the small town Valle Azul, where many of the squatters and their families still live. From that point on, Curú began to concentrate on protecting its important habitats for many threatened and endangered species. In 1981, it received status from the Costa Rican government to protect its forests and mangroves. In 1983, Curú National Wildlife Refuge was officially created. In the past two decades, the Schutt Valle family, who manages Curú Hacienda and National Wildlife Refuge, has converted the area into an ecotourism location and research center for students and scientists from Costa Rica and around the world.
The Curú Hacienda and National Wildlife Refuge is a living example of how sustainable development can work to produce a profit and jobs for local Costa Ricans, as well as protect important habitats for many wildlife and marine species. When Frederico Schutt de la Croix past away, the area became an association name Adelina, S.A. The transformation of the area into the present day Curú Hacienda and National Wildlife Refuge has been possible due to the dedication of Doña Julieta Schutt de Valle, who still manages the ecotourism projects and is a dedicated supporter of conservation, research, and student groups using the area for educational purposes.
Local Habitats and Land Use
The area contains a total of 1,496 hectares , including deciduous and semi-deciduous forests, mangroves, beaches, marine habitats, pastures, and plantations. A total of 1,100 hectares are protected forest (75%), 312 hectares are for grazing and agriculture (20%), and 84 hectares contain the Curú National Wildlife Refuge (5%). The protected forests are protected as part of a private wildlife refuge that is located along the Peninsular Biological Corridor. There are several trails within the refuge and protected forests, including short, easy trails and long, difficult trails that can take several hours to complete.
Common Bird, Ma mmal, Amphibian, and Reptile Species Encountered in the Area The area is known to contain a high level of diversity due to its protection of several habitat types. 232 species of birds, 78 species of mammals, 87 species of reptiles, and more than 500 species of plants have been identified. Curú contains a great example of tropical dry and moist forests, contains coastal and marine habitats. There are several trails throughout the refuge ranging from short and easy to long and very difficult. Sendero Finca de los Monos is one of the best trails to see birds and small mammals. The best time to go bird watching is early in the morning as possible, which is possible if visitors stay in one of the cabins. Visitors that come to the refuge for a day trip, the best times to see birds are 7-9 AM and 3-4 PM. Other good trails include Sendero de Laguna, Sendero Quesera, and the main road leading from the entrance gate to the beach.
Common Wildlife Species Include :
Birds - orange-fronted parakeet, yellow-naped parrot, scarlet macaw, long-tail manakin, lineated, pale-billed, and Hoffman's woodpeckers, osprey, common black hawk, barred antshrike, blue-crowned and turquoise-browed motmots, black headed, violaceous, and elegant trogons, brown pelican, crested caracara, flycatchers, tanagers, vultures, herons, and several species of migratory song and shorebirds
Ma mmals - white face, spider, and howler monkey, raccoon, coati, squirrels, anteater, white-tail deer, armadillo, tayra, collared peccary, margay, puma or mountain lion, skunk, and kinkajou
Amphibians and Reptiles - giant toad, boa constrictor, iguana, sea turtles, Anolis lizards, and crocodile