In a remote and lush corner of Costa Rica, near the border with Panama, lies a realm of giant trees, potbellied spider monkeys, harpy eagles, prowling jaguars, and herds of white-lipped peccary, a tusked pig-like beast. This is the Osa Peninsula and there is no other place in the world like it: it seems to call for superlatives at every turn. Within Central America, for example, it contains the largest swath of lowland rainforest on the Pacific Coast and the most expansive mangrove wetlands; the tallest tree, a 250 feet (77 meter) kapok; the healthiest population of scarlet macaws-the only one that biologists judge to be growing in size; and it boasts more species of trees and plants than any forest occurring north of Panama. Applying an even wider standard of comparison yields additional forms of uniqueness: the Golfo Dulce is one of only four tropical fjords in the world, and it and the surrounding marine waters are believed to be the only place in the world where breeding populations of humpback whales from the northern hemisphere meet breeding populations arriving from the southern hemisphere.
The Osa Peninsula supports more than fifty percent of the animal and plant species that live in Costa Rica, yet it covers a mere three percent of the country's total land area. This is an especially remarkable fact in a country that contains over 500,000 species-or four percent of all species estimated to exist worldwide. The entire United States, by comparison, has half the number of species that live in Costa Rica, with 200 times more land, and, because the Osa remains a relatively unexplored wilderness, thousands of species still await discovery.
Internationally acclaimed nature photographer Roy Toft travels the world in search of new photographic images. His work has been featured in National Geographic, Smithsonian, Audubon, Discover Magazine, and other publications. In addition to receiving a BBC award for photography, he was named founding fellow of the prestigious International League of Conservation Photographers. He has been traveling to the Osa for more than twenty years.
Biologist and conservationist Trond Larsen received his PhD from Princeton University and has been conducting scientific research on the Osa for over ten years. In his former role as science director for the organization Friends of the Osa, he established a new biological station on the peninsula. He is currently a research fellow with World Wildlife Fund, Princeton University, and the Smithsonian Institution. He was a founding director of Amazon Conservation Association and has won numerous awards for his research and publications.