Bosawas Biosphere, Nicaragua

Bosawas Biosphere, Nicaragua Photo
©John Polisar

Located in north-central Nicaragua, the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve covers nearly 7 percent of the country's land area. The reserve is a keystone in protecting the Meso-American Biological Corridor, which runs the length of Central America. Harpy eagles, jaguars, pumas, tapirs, macaws, and some 150,000 insect species inhabit this region. About 21,000 indigenous Mayangna and Miskito people live along the rivers that cut through the jungles of Bosawas.

Fast Facts

  • Bosawas takes its name from three significant geological features in the region: the Bocay River, Saslaya Mountain, and the Waspuk River.
  • More than 270 plant species are found in the lush Mosquitian forest, including the commercially valuable Spanish cedar and mahogany.


Poverty has given rise to the main conservation challenges, which include over-hunting of wildlife, habitat fragmentation from unsustainable land-clearing for agriculture, and human-wildlife conflict.

WCS Responds

WCS is working with the indigenous associations and government agencies active in Bosawás to preserve the landscape’s tropical forests and the wildlife that depends on them. We conduct surveys of birds, plants, reptiles, and amphibians, evaluate jaguar populations and their prey base, monitor wintering migratory birds, and study the impacts of subsistence hunting on wild game populations.

Much of our work focuses on partnerships with local communities. We have provided environmental education materials to primary and secondary schools. We are teaching indigenous people skills in forest inventory methods in order to train them as parabiologists, and facilitating patrols to limit incursions of hunters from outside the territories. We are also working to reduce human-wildlife conflicts, such as jaguar attacks on livestock, by helping to build corral enclosures for domestic pigs and cattle in the park's buffer zone in return for conservation commitments. Additionally, we provide guidance to ranchers on managing cattle herds in a way that minimizes forest clearing.
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