The manatee in Costa Rica
The Manatee, an endangered species, became a national symbol of Costa Rica thanks to the children’s initiative.
Yes it is the children of the school of “Limoncito” (small lemon), located in the Caribbean, who took the initiative to present to the authorities a project for this large aquatic mammal to become a national symbol in 2014 .
The initiative of a school
It all started when the children of this school on the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica were preparing a science project. They discovered that the manatee (also called Manati) was an endangered species. This because of the destruction of its natural habitat by pollution, hunting and reproduction is very slow. A female Manati can have one small at a time, and every 4 years only,
The project was presented to the National Assembly and the manatee became a representative species of our country when unanimously, the deputies voted in favor of the protection of their natural habitat.
There are very few Manatees or Trichechus Manatus (scientific name) in the world. Today, it is more difficult to see it, but in Costa Rica they are still present in Tortuguero, in the San Juan River in the North and South of the country near the border with Panama in Gandoca and Manzanillo .
The manatee is a large mammal with a tail and racket-shaped extremities. It is also called marine cow, because of its large size. An adult Manati can wait 600 kilos and 3 meters in length.
For many indigenous cultures of America, Manati is sacred and present in legends. Moreover, in Costa Rica, the history of the Bribri people tells us about a being named manati or Naitli, who instead of the legs had a marine lobster tail. Sibo, God of the Bribri people, sent him to live in the mouths of the rivers.
However, for some natives Naitly is considered dangerous, and can even be hunted because it is a food supplying the vital proteins for their livelihood.
Later in the story, various chronicles of adventurers who came to the New World describe a huge animal, which is hunted, and has a much appreciated meat. The inhabitants eat this raw red meat, smoked or dried in the sun.
In addition, in Costa Rica, the skin of Manati is used to make leather craftsmanship, more appreciated than that made with the skin of Tapir.
A national symbol
This is how Manati became one of our national symbols on July 20, 2014. Congratulations and thank you to all those children who, even more than adults, have been sensitive to the importance of protecting the nature of our country. .
Author: Gabriella Rota Maldan
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