Darién National Park

Country/territory: Panama

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2007)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 579,000 ha

Sociedad Audubon de Panamá

Site description
Darién National Park is one of the largest wilderness areas remaining in Central America. It extends along most of the Colombian border, and includes several isolated mountain ranges. The eastern part of the Serranía de Darién, culminating in Cerro Tacarcuna (1,875 m), the highest peak in eastern Panama, runs along the Caribbean coast and forms the continental divide. The Serranía de Pirre (high point on Alturas de Nique, c. 1,500 m) and the associated lower ridges of Cerro Setetule and the Altos de Quía are near the center of the isth-mus. A complex of ranges extends along the Pacific coast, including the Serranía de Sapo (1,145 m), the Serranía de Jungurudó (c. 1,200 m), the Altos de Aspave (c. 800 m), and the Cordillera de Juradó. The Pacific coast of the park is steep and precipitous. The park includes the headwaters of the Tuira (with its tributaries the Chico, Yape, Capetí, Clarita, Pucuro, Tapalisa, Paya, and Paca), Balsas, Sambú, and Jaqué Rivers. The park is contiguous with the Punta Garachiné-Cerro Sapo IBA in the northwest. The small towns of El Real, on the Tuira River, and Jaqué, at the mouth of the Jaqué River, are adjacent to the park, and within the park there are small villages, mostly indigenous, on the major rivers. Most of the people living within the park are Emberá-Wounaan, with some Kuna, mostly on the upper Tuira, and afrocolonials (darienitas).

Key biodiversity
Darién National Park contains more threatened and endemic species than any other IBA in Panama except La Amistad International Park and the Palo Seco Protection Forest. These include the globally threatened Choco Tinamou, Tacarcuna Wood-Quail, Great Green Macaw, Saffron-headed Parrot, Speckled Antshrike, Tacarcuna Tapaculo, and Pirre Warbler, and the globally near-threatened Plumbeous Hawk, Crested and Harpy Eagles, Great Curassow, Russet-crowned Quail-Dove, Rufous-cheeked Hummingbird, Beautiful Treerunner, Black-billed Flycatcher, Green-naped Tanager, and Viridian Dacnis. The park also contains many nationally threatened species, being a stronghold for three other macaws besides Great Green, Crested Guan, and several raptors, among others. The park contains 14 of 15 species (93%) of the Darién Lowlands EBA, and 16 of 17 species (94%) of the Darién Highlands EBA. It includes most of the global ranges of Tacarcuna Wood-Quail, Rufous-cheeked Hummingbird, Beautiful Treerunner, Tacarcuna Tapaculo, Varied Solitaire, Pirre Warbler, Green-naped Tanager, and Pirre Bush-Tanager. Some of these species, such as the Tacarcuna Wood-Quail and Tacarcuna Tapaculo, are only known from the Tacarcuna range, while others such as Rufous-cheeked Hummingbird, Pirre Warbler, and Pirre Bush-Tanager are restricted to the Pirre, Sapo, and Jungurudó ranges. The area is also high in endemism at the subspecific level, with 27 endemic subspecies being found.

Non-bird biodiversity: Darién National Park is extremely rich in wildlife and shelters a host of endemic species. Mammals include Water Opossum, Central American Woolly Opossum, Highland Mouse Opossum, Slaty Mouse Opossum, Darien Small-eared Shrew, Bartica Bat, Spix’s Disc-winged Bat, Tacarcuna Bat, Geoffroy’s Tamarin, Western Night-Monkey, Brown-headed Spider Monkey, Central American Spider Monkey, Darien Pocket Gopher, Painted Bristly Mouse, Mount Pirre Climbing Mouse, Goldman’s Water Mouse, Panama Climbing Rat, Fulvous-bellied Climbing Rat, Darien Harvest Mouse, Mount Pirre Deer Mouse, Capybara, Bush Dog, Crab-eating Raccoon, Olingo, Neotropical River Otter, Ocelot, Margay, Puma, Jaguar, and Baird’s Tapir. Reptiles and amphibians include the frogs and toads Atelopus certus, A. glyphus, Rhamphophryne acrolopha, Agalychnis litodryas, Gastrotheca nicefori, Hyla subocularis, H. thysanota, Phyllomedusa lemur, P. venusta, Eleutherodactylus achatinus, and E. laticorpus, the salamanders Bolitoglossa biseriata, B. medemi, B. phalarosoma, and B. taylori, the lizards Diploglossus montisilvestris, Lepidoblepharis sanctamartae, Sphaerodactylus lineolatus, Bachia pallidiceps, Ptychoglossus festae, P. myersi, Anolis chloris, and A. latifrons, and the snakes Clelia equatoriana, Coniophanes joanae, Imantodes phantasma, Micrurus ancoralis, and Bothriopsis punctata.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Darién National Park. Downloaded from on 04/02/2023.