Rancho La Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Country: Costa Rica (Coordinates: 9.166644, -83.736312 )
Size: 506 Hectares
Ecoregion: Terrestrial - Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
Status: VCA Silver

The privately owned Rancho La Merced National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Pacific Coast, near Punta Uvita and Ballena Marine National Park in Costa Rica. It has 506 ha of primary and secondary tropical wet forest, alongside pastures and mangroves next to Morete River and a beach.

Rancho La Merced has been protected from hunting for many years and it is an active member of the Asociacion de Amigos de la Naturaleza del Pacífico Central y Sur (ASANA) or the Friends of Nature in South Pacific Association.

Furthermore, the refuge is part of the Tapir’s Path Wildlife Corridor. It was recently awarded the “Bandera Azul Ecológica” and the Certificación de Sostenibilidad Turística from the Costa Rican Tourism Bureau.

Rancho La Merced National Wildlife Refuge has been under conservation oriented management since 1971, meaning that the owners have healthy ecosystems to share with their visitors. 

Much of the reserve's income comes from tourism and it has many activities to increase awareness of the importance of the environment among its guests. 

The wide variety of habitats host 310 species of birds and an even wider range of reptiles, insects, and mammals. Visitors can enjoy hiking on the reserve’s trails, admiring tropical rainforest and mangroves, coastal beaches, and visiting the Ballena Marine National Park, which is adjacent to the refuge.

The refuge is also a working cattle ranch dedicated to meat production, however this is done in harmony with the ecological balance of tropical rainforest and the surrounding mangroves.