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The Flora and Fauna of Bolivia

Bolivia is one of the most bio-diverse countries on the planet, containing between 30-40% of the world’s flora and fauna and a wide range of ecosystems – from Andean mountains to the Pantanal.


Often over-shadowed by its more well known neighbours, Bolivia shares much of the biodiversity found in Brazil and Peru, with the difference being that much of it is relatively untouched.

Within Bolivia’s borders you can find more than half of the world’s neo-tropical bird species, over 3,000 types of butterfly, over 300 types of fauna (35% of all fauna found in South America) an estimated 20,000 native plants and 2,000 species of hardwoods. Bolivia is considered to be the country with the 4th highest number of Butterfly species in the world, and the 6th greatest diversity of birds.


On top of this, around 16% of Bolivia’s territory is protected and its national parks are world class - the Madidi National Park, in the tropical rainforest, is one of the most biologically diverse protected areas in the world and houses over 1,000 species of birds. The Pantanal region, Noel Kempff and Amboró are other protected areas that are unusually rich in biodiversity.


The semi-tropical foothills, or yungas, contain cloud forests packed with flora and fauna. A multitude of animals can be discovered here including spectacled bears, jaguars, ocelots, tapirs and various types of monkey. In the skies you can see giant hummingbirds, whistling herons, ospreys, toucans and Bolivian military macaws. Ninety percent of Bolivia’s endemic fauna is found here and there’s a wide variety of native flora including South American cedar and quinine.


The Andean regions contain llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, Andean foxes, three types of flamingo and the magnificent Andean condor. Pumas also reign here, but are notoriously hard to spot. Almost 200 species of plant and trees grow in these inhospitable conditions including totora, which is used to make reed boats, and yareta, a slow-growing plant used by locals as fuel.


The Eastern lowlands curve around the Andean mountain range bringing a mix of dry forests, gentle rolling hills, savannahs, swamps and flat tropical rainforests. Puma, jaguar, tapir, sloth, armadillo, coati and capybara are found in this region as are a variety of monkeys, including the spider and red howler. Birdlife is abundant here and includes several types of eagle, fascinated tiger herons, buff-necked ibis, storks and rare species of macaw and parakeet. In the Amazon, pink river dolphins, piranhas, anacondas and caiman dominate the waters.


10 Oct 2008

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