Couvrant 72 000 ha dans le nord-ouest de la Colombie, le parc de Los Katios comprend des collines basses, des forêts et des plaines humides. Il présente une diversité biologique exceptionnelle et sert d'habitat à plusieurs espèces animales menacées, ainsi qu'à de nombreuses plantes endémiques.
Parc national de Los Katíos
© Archivo Parques Nacionales Colombia
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Extending over 72,000 ha in north-western Colombia, the park comprises two main regions: the mountains of the Serranía del Darién in the west and in the east the floodplain of the Atrato River, the fastest-flowing in the world, emptying 4,900 m3 of water into the Caribbean every second. The area is composed of alluvial plains with regularly flooded terraces, alluvial plains with rarely flooded high terraces, low hills up to 250 m high, hills up to 600 m high and marshes. Within the sites there are the cascades of Tilupo and Tendal, the Stops of Guillermina and Limo'n.
Lowland swamp forests cover approximately half of the park, whereas the remainder is lowland through to montane tropical rainforest. The wetlands of the Atrato floodplain are of special interest, and cativo is one of the typical species: it can reach 50 m and gives its name to a formation called 'catival' which is only found in Colombia, south Central America and Jamaica. The tropical rainforests are characterized by caracolí, guaco and palma mil pesos.
Los Katíos supports a number of species which are characteristic of Central America and are only found in this part of South America, such as the mouse and grey-headed chachalaca. The Serranía del Darién is home to many endemic species such as the rufous-cheeked hummingbird and violet-capped hummingbird and the frog. More than 450 species of bird (representing respectively 25% and 50% of the avifauna of Colombia and Panama) have been recorded within the park.
Some 550 species of vertebrate (excluding fish) have been found in the park. The manatee has recently been found in the Ciénaga de Tumuradó and the American crocodile occurs in the Ciénaga de Cacarica. Other threatened mammals include bush dog, giant anteater and Central American tapir.
The region was previously inhabited by the Kuna, an indigenous group forced to migrate to Panama because of intertribal fighting with the Katío-Embera group, from which the park took its name, which is now established throughout Colombia's Chocó region. The Darién region, including Los Katíos, was historically important for the crossing of the first colonizers from North America some 20,000 years ago, as has been confirmed by the discovery of archaeological remains.
The expeditions of the Spanish conquerors Rodrigo de Bastidas, Alonso de Ojeda and Vasco Nuñez de Balboa arrived in the zone in 1501. Santa Maria of the Darién, the first Spanish mainland city, was founded on 1510 by Francisco Pizarro and Martín Fernandez de Enciso. The legend of the Dabeiba cacique treasure comes from this time, when Balboa told the King of Spain that many rich gold mines had been discovered in Darién Province. Source : UNESCO/CLT/WHC
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Los Katros was created under Executive Decree No. 172 of 6 August 1974. Originally comprising 52,000ha, it was extended to its present size under Executive Decree No. 91 of 21 April 1980. Decree 2811 of 1974 and Reglamentary Decree 622 of 1 977 regulates national parks. Source : évaluation des Organisations consultatives