Tikal National Park is located in northern Guatemala, between the municipalities of Flores and San José, Petén. Created in 1955, it is Guatemala's best-known park and most popular tourist destination. It features a set of striking archaeological sites and a complex habitat of wetlands, lowland and highland forests, which have been well conserved. The park is one of few protected areas in Guatemala to have received the full support of authorities for its conservation. In 1979, Tikal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Regionally endemic species found in the park include: the crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii), Central American river turtle (Dermatemys mawii), the howler monkey (Alouatta pigra), spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) and ocellated turkey (Agriocharis ocellata). Felines include the jaguar (Panthera onca), puma (Puma concolor) and ocelot (Leopardus wiedii). Several of the species in the area are on IUCN's red list (2001). Guatemala's National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP 2001a) also considers that C. moreletii, A. pigra, A. geoffroyi, P. onca, P. concolor and L. wiedii are in serious danger of extinction.
ParksWatch classifies Tikal National Park as vulnerable, meaning that continuous efforts must be made to ensure the long-term success of biodiversity protection. The main threats to the park are forest fires, illegal extraction of forestry products, and poaching. Additionally, due to an imbalance between the number of personnel in charge of the archeological and tourist areas and the number of personnel available to patrol the natural areas, there are not enough park guards to adequately address the threats. The lack of job stability of those in charge of administration has also hampered the park's management.