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Location Panama, Comarca Kuna Yala (San Blas)
Central coordinates 78o 54.00' West  9o 24.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2
Area 87,800 ha
Altitude 0 - 899m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Sociedad Audubon de Panamá

Site description The Narganá Wildlands Area comprises the district of Narganá (Corregimiento No. 1) in the Comarca (indigenous reserve) of Kuna Yala (San Blas). The area extends from the continental divide to the Caribbean coast, from the headwaters of the Mandinga, Cangandí, and Cartí Grande Rivers in the west, where it is about 18 km wide, to the vicinity of Ticantiquí in the east, where it narrows to about 5 km. The highest point (899 m) is at Cerro Brewster (Diamma-Yala) at the western extremity. The area is contiguous with Chagres National Park in the west. A gravel road crosses the cordillera from El Llano on the Pan-american Highway to near the village of Cartí on the coas.

Key Biodiversity The globally threatened endemic Speckled Ant-shrike occurs, as do the globally near-threatened Crested and Harpy Eagles, Great Curassow, Russet-crowned Quail-Dove, and Blue-and-gold Tanager, as well as many nationally threatened species. The site contains 6 of 15 species (40%) of the Darién Lowlands EBA, as well as a few of the Darién Highlands. There have been ornithological surveys on the Mandinga River, at Cerro Brewster, and at Nusagandi on the El Llano-Cartí Road, but the area is otherwise poorly known.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals recorded or probably occurring include Water Opossum, Slaty Mouse Opossum,* Giant Anteater, Silky Anteater, Northern Naked-tailed Armadillo, Geoffroy’s Tamarin, Western Night Monkey, Brown-headed Spider Monkey, Central American Spider Monkey, Panamanian Spiny Pocket-Mouse, Capybara, Crab-eating Raccoon, Bush Dog, Olingo, Neotropical River Otter, Ocelot, Margay, Jaguarundi, Puma, Jaguar, and Baird’s Tapir (Charnley 1985). The reptile and amphibian fauna is poorly known but includes the frogs and toads Colosthetus flotator, C. inguinalis, Minyobates fulgoritus, M. minutus, Phyllomedusa lemur, Eleutherodactylus gollmeri, E. museosus, and E. pardalis, the salamanders Bolitoglossa biseriata and B. schizodactyla, and the lizards Sphaerodactylus lineolatus, Leposoma southi, Ptychoglossus festae, and Anolis poecilopus (Ibáñez 1997e).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Great Curassow Crax rubra breeding  2006  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A1  Vulnerable 
Plumbeous Hawk Cryptoleucopteryx plumbea breeding  2006  50-249 individuals  poor  A1  Vulnerable 
Purplish-backed Quail-dove Zentrygon lawrencii unknown  2006  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Russet-crowned Quail-dove Zentrygon goldmani breeding  2006  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A1, A2  Near Threatened 
Great Green Macaw Ara ambiguus breeding  2006  20 individuals  poor  A1  Endangered 
Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker Piculus callopterus unknown  2006  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi winter  2006  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A1  Near Threatened 
Spiny-faced Antshrike Xenornis setifrons breeding  2006  2,500-9,999 individuals  poor  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Black-crowned Antpitta Pittasoma michleri unknown  2006  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera winter  2006  2,500-9,999 individuals  poor  A1  Near Threatened 
Cerulean Warbler Dendroica cerulea passage  2006  2,500-9,999 individuals  poor  A1  Vulnerable 
Blue-and-gold Tanager Bangsia arcaei breeding  2006  250-999 individuals  poor  A1, A2  Near Threatened 
Black-and-yellow Tanager Chrysothlypis chrysomelas unknown  2006  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Tawny-capped Euphonia Euphonia anneae unknown  2006  unknown  A2  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Chagres National Park 131,261 protected area is adjacent to site 0  
Corregimiento del Nargana Wildlife Refuge 100,000 protected area contained by site 87,800  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Mangrove  major
Artificial - terrestrial   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research major
agriculture major
hunting major
tourism/recreation minor

Protection status The Narganá Wildlands Area was established as response by the Kuna to anticipated colonization pressure when the El Llano-Cartí Road began construction in 1970. In 1975 a Kuna agricultural project was established at Nusagandi, where the road crosses into Kuna territory, in order to maintain a permanent presence and deter incursions. When the project failed, it was decided instead to declare the area a reserve under Kuna administration. This status was formally recognized by the Panamanian government in 1994. The area has been divided into several management zones, including a "Natural Zone" (52,055 ha) from the base of the escarpment to the continental divide, devoted to conservation (although Kuna are still allowed to hunt and extract natural resources from this zone); a "Cultural Zone" (52,038 ha on land, 46,341 marine) along the coast and lower rivers, devoted to traditional agriculture and fishing; and small "Special Use"and "Recovery" Zones along the road and in degraded areas (PEMASKY 1990). The area is patrolled and protected by the Kuna themselves.

References Angehr, George R. 2003. Directorio de areas importantes para aves en Panama. Directory of important bird areas in Panama. Panama: Sociedad Audubon de Panama. Blake, John G. 1985. Preliminary Survey of the Birds of San Blas (Comarca de Kuna Yala). Informe no publicado/Unpublished report. Charnley, Susan. 1985. Mammals of the PEMASKY Project Area, San Blas, Panama. PEMASKY/STRI, Panamá. Ibáñez, Roberto (ed.). 1997e. Informe Final de Inventario de Vertebrados Terrestres. Cerro Brewster, Parque Nacional Chagres. USAID/ANAM/STRI, Panamá. PEMASKY. 1990. Comarca de la Biosfera de Kuna Ya-la. Plan General de Manejo y Desarrollo, Resumen Ejecutivo. ANCON/STRI/AEK, Panamá. Ridgely, Robert S., and John A. Gwynne. 1989. A Guide to the Birds of Panama (Second Edition). Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. Wetmore, Alexander. 1965. The Birds of the Republic of Panama. Part 1. Tinamidae (Tinamous) to Rhynchopidae (Skimmers). Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Wetmore, Alexander. 1968. The Birds of the Republic of Panama. Part 2. Columbidae (Pigeons) to Picidae (Woodpeckers). Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Wetmore, Alexander. 1973. The Birds of the Republic of Panama. Part 3. Passeriformes: Dendrocolaptidae (Woodcreepers) to Oxyruncidae (Sharpbill). Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Wetmore, Alexander, Roger F. Pasquier, and Storrs L. Olson. 1984. The Birds of the Republic of Panama. Part 4. Passeriformes: Hirundinidae (Swallows) to Fringillidae (Finches). Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Narganá Wildlands Area. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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