There are roughly 8,000 species of FLORA to be found in Spain. In the south, where vegetation is more subtropical in nature, there are agave, cacti and palms, and near Elche in Alicante there are the only date plants in Europe. Spain is home to a number of large birds of prey, such as the Imperial Eagle, the Short-toed Eagle and the large Bearded Vulture in the upper Pyrenees. Spain also has the largest population of Black Vultures in the world. Spain also has no shortage of large MAMMALS; the brown bear, wolf, otter, the red deer , the rare Spanish ibex ,wild boar and the lynx as well as populations of whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Spain has more varieties of wildlife than any other country in Europe; it is home to some of the rarest species on the planet. It’s differing climatic zones are the reason for the immense diversity of it’s fauna, embracing European, Mediterranean and African species , as well as alpine fauna in the high mountain regions.
The Iberian wolf
- The Iberian Wolf lives in small packs. It is considered to be beneficial because it has kept the population of wild boar under control. It is different from the more common Eurasian wolf with its’ slighter frame, white marks on the upper lips, the dark marks on the tail and a pair of dark marks in its front legs. Until the 1900s it inhabited most of the Iberian Peninsula.
However the Franco government introduced culling during the 1950s and 1960s with the aim to eradicate the wolf from Spain.This all but wiped out the population leaving only the North Western part of the country, where there is still a sizeable population in the Sierra de la Culebra, and some isolated areas of the Sierra Morena. They are one of the last remaining refuges of the European wolf. The population is slowly recovering from its 1970 low of 400-500 odd individuals. There is now thought to be over 3,000.
The fox is probably the most common Spanish carnivore, its numbers estimated at 500,000-1,000,000 individuals.
The Spanish ibex (Capra pyrenaica) The Spanish ibex is a rare species of a mountain goat.
They are strong mountainous animals characterized by their large and ﬂexible hooves and short legs. These physical adaptations allow them to be able to run and leap on bare, rocky, rough, and steep slopes. This gives them an advantage over potential predators that possibly cannot reach them because of the terrain.
Red Deer Spanish red deer are considerably smaller than their Central European counterparts. The red deer once occupied the whole of the Peninsula , but by the end of the 19th century hunting had reduced its distribution to the Sierra Morena, Montes de Toledo, Sierra de San Pedro and Las Villuercas. Consequent reintroductions by game estates have hugely re-extended their range. On occasions, these reintroductions, in an attempt to maximise profits of this prized piece, have led to incredibly dense deer populations and consequently severe degradation of forests such as in Saja in Cantabría. Wolves are its principal predator in Zamora , Somiedo and Riaño. Not threatened. See more wildlife in Spain.
Wild Boar The ancestor of the domestic pig is fairly common in many regions in Spain. They don’t have sweat glands so look for muddy puddles to wallow in to cool down and for this reason the wild boar is rarely seen in the drier, arid areas.
With the exception of the wolf the wild boar has no natural predators in Spain. The Spanish people look upon these pigs as sport, meat and an occasional nuisance, pretty much in that order. Some 60,000 are killed by man each year during the hunting season. Except in the wolf areas of Northern Spain, the wild boar has no natural predators in Spain, and is in clear expansion, as a result of abandonment of the countryside and recovery of forest. This is despite game hunting of some 60,000-100,000 animals a year.
The Iberian lynx The Iberian lynx, (Lynx pardinus), is a critically endangered species . It looks like a big cat. animals characterized by their large and ﬂexible hooves and short legs. These physical adaptations allow them to be able to run and leap on bare, rocky, rough, and steep slopes. This gives them an advantage over potential predators that possibly cannot reach them because of the terrain.
A specialist predator of rabbits the Iberian lynx has been unable to significantly change its’ diet and, as a result, its population has declined sharply after its main prey was decimated by two diseases in the 20th century. It has also been affected by the loss of scrub land, its main habitat, to human development. It is now one of the most endangered cat species in the world.The Iberian Lynx inhabits the open forests and thickets. It is similar in appearance to the Eurasian Lynx but about half it’s size. Whilst Spain and Portugal are the two West European countries with the greatest population of wild cats, these populations are threatened because of breeding with feral cats and the loss of habitat.
Brown Bear (Oso pardo cantábrico)
Believed to have originated in Asia, the Brown bear spread across the Northern hemisphere, colonising much of the Eurasian land mass as well as North America. The Cantabrian brown bear, another endangered species is thought to be a distinct subspecies of the European brown bear; and is known in Spain as the Oso pardo cantábrico and, more locally, in Asturias as Osu. It is timid and will avoid human contact whenever possible. The Cantabrian brown bear can live for around 25-30 years in the wild. Population figures reported in 2007 suggested that the bears live in two pockets covering about 6000 sq. km but separated by about 30 km. In the Western enclave between 100-110 bears live and between 20-30 bears in the Eastern but genetic studies conducted by the Redes Natural Park have indicated that there has has been recent interbreeding between the two populations.
Birds of Spain
Reptiles There are countless lizards and snakes, e.g. the Montpelier snake and the Lataste’s viper.
Bats are numerous in Spain where there thought to be 25 different species of bat. Interestingly t he coats of arms of many cities in eastern Spain including Valencia, Palma de Mallorca and Fraga have the bat over the shield as do many smaller towns, like Catarroja and Novallas.
Whales Dolphins & Sharks If you want to see a whale or a dolphin up close then the Bay of Biscay is the place for you.
This is a true meeting point for whales and dolphins. Many of these delightful mammals can be seen around the coasts of Spain. Striped, Common and Bottlenose dolphins are the most frequent sightings, though long-finned Pilot whales, Fin whales, Sperm whales and Orcas also frequent many of Spain’s coastal waters. In the Bay of Biscay, one might also find Minke whales and Risso’s dolphins. A popular whale watching spot is the Bay of Algeciras near Gibraltar. Sharks are found in the Mediterranean. Monk Seals are seen in Spanish waters and are highly protected against hunting. Sharks are found in the Mediterranean.
Fish and other sea creatures: Spain is home to a wealth of different varieties of fish, and Spain’s rivers and lakes boast an abundance of species such as trout, tench and barbel. Jellyfish are found in all coastal areas as are Sea Urchins and Sting Rays and Weever.
SPAIN HAS DIVERSE REGIONS RANGING FROM A WET TERRAIN IN THE NORTH TO HOT ARID LANDS IN THE SOUTH.
In the wetter areas of the north there are deciduous trees (including oak, chestnut, elm, beech, and poplar), as well as varieties of pine. In the humid areas of the north there are deciduous trees (including oak, chestnut, elm, beech, and poplar), as well as varieties of pine. Pine, juniper, and other evergreens, particularly the ilex and cork oak, and drought-resistant shrubs predominate in the dry southern region. Much of the Meseta of Andalucía has steppe vegetation. The Canaries, named for the wild dogs ( canariae insulae ) once found there, support both Mediterranean and African flora.