Canoe in the Congo
Photograph by Michael Nichols, National Geographic
Canoes are vital for transportation on the rain forest rivers of the Republic of the Congo. The Congo Basin’s 500 million acres of tropical forest, second-largest in the world after the Amazon, are known for an incredible array of wildlife including great apes, forest elephants, and some 700 species of river fish. But people have also lived here for over 50,000 years. The Congo Basin currently provides water and food to about 75 million Africans.
Photograph by Annie Griffiths Belt, National Geographic
A scarlet macaw is caught munching a snack in Brazil's Amazon rain forest. These birds are best known for their loud cackles, four-toed feet, and brilliant plumage.
Photograph by Timothy G. Laman, National Geographic
Limited space in dense rain forests results in many unique plants, like this fig tree in the Philippines, which produces fruit on runners that come from its trunk instead of on its branches.
Lizard on a Leaf
Photograph by Brian Stinga, My Shot
A lizard suns itself on a leaf in the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. El Yunque is the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest system, which protects the 28,000 acres (11,331 hectares) in the Luquillo Mountains
Monkey and Coconut
Photograph by Nader Alhareedi, My Shot
A monkey from the Malaysian rain forest digs into a coconut snack. Malaysia is still heavily forested, about 60 percent of the nation is tree-covered, but deforestation has proceeded rapidly during the nation’s recent economic development. rain forests harbor tremendous biodiversity and those covering Peninsular Malaysia’s highlands also give rise to the rivers which supply 90 percent of the nation’s freshwater needs.
Osa Peninsula Streamside
Photograph by Alexander Ross, My Shot
Streams on Costa Rica’s remote Osa Peninsula flow through one of the world’s outstanding examples of lowland tropical rain forest, protected here by Corcovado National Park. Costa Rica’s signature park boasts an array of colorful flora and fungi and an amazing variety of larger animals, from estuary-dwelling crocodiles to secretive jaguars.
Photograph by Ian McAllister, Getty Images
A species of mushroom called Amanita muscaria or fly agaric dots the floor of a temperate coastal rain forest in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Identified by the white patches on its cap, this species of fungus can grow up to a foot high with a top as big as a dinner plate in some regions.
It is referred to as the fly agaric because people have been known to use pieces of the mushroom to attract and kill flies.
Sitka Spruce Trees
Photograph by Sarah Leen, National Geographic
Moss drapes a stand of Sitka spruce in the Hoh River Valley, a U.S. temperate rain forest in Washington State. Trees here often host plants that grow on other plants, such as moss.
Photograph by Heshan de Mel, My Shot
The cassowary has an intimidating stare and the bulk to back it up. These Australian rain forest-dwellers are the second-largest birds in the world, reaching 5.5 feet (1.7 meters) and 155 pounds (70 kilograms) and looking up only to the ostrich. Cassowaries tend to avoid humans but can use their powerful legs and dagger-like nails to deliver punishing blows to any aggressors. Though they run, jump, and swim well, cassowaries cannot fly.
Costa Rica Capuchin Monkeys
Photograph by Wolfgang Kaehler, Alamy
Baby white-faced capuchin monkeys play in a Costa Rican rain forest. Unlike these familiar faces, the majority of rain forest species are yet to be named, formally described, or analyzed.
Photograph by Timothy G. Laman, National Geographic
The rhinoceros hornbill is named for its characteristic “casque,” the strange structure situated on top of the bird’s bill. The uses of this “horn” aren’t fully understood but casques may play a role in attracting mates or amplifying bird calls. Rhinoceros hornbills feed mainly on fruit found in rain forest trees. They typically live in pairs and are known for an amazing nesting strategy during which the male seals up the female inside a hollow tree, leaving only a tiny beak hole through which to feed her and their young.
Red-eyed Tree Frog
Photograph by Roy Niswanger, My Shot
The red-eyed tree frog is an icon of the Central American rain forest. When asleep, it's green color provides effective camouflage. When threatened, the red of suddenly-exposed eyes or legs may startle predators and enable an escape. Female frogs lay eggs on leaves overhanging water so that their tadpoles will fall into ponds. The tadpoles feed on insects in the water until they develop into frogs and take to the trees.
Sunlight in the Rain Forest
Photograph by Fakhrurrazi Fakhrurrazi, Your Shot
Sunny rays penetrate the canopy of an Indonesian rain forest on Nias Island. Rain forests are among the Earth’s most biologically diverse habitats. Their fauna and flora are precious for their own sake but can also aid humans. Rain forest plants, for example, produce chemicals to combat insects and disease that have led to the development of many beneficial drugs. But rain forests around the world are being deforested at alarming rates—even as many of their species and secrets remain unknown to humans.
Learn about the causes and effects of acid rain, and what you can do to help.
Brazil's Atlantic forest rivals the Amazon with its eye-popping array of unique plants and animals, yet its proximity to Rio de Janeiro and other cities puts it at even greater risk.
Explore tropical and subtropical forests with our rain forests map.
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