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Fauna

    Our geography contains about a 1.300 bird species? more than those in the northern hemisphere; and the 800 fish species in the Llanos region, outnumber those known in all of North American.

    Sapito minero The humid forests play an essential role in the development and maintenance of the biological diversity of our country. These humid forests are home to large mammals like the deer, tapir, tigers, ounces, ocelots, sloth bears, ant bears and a great variety of bats, rodents, birds, reptiles and amphibian species.

    Sapito minero Los insectos, arácnidos y otros invertebrados, la mayor parte de ellos aún en espera de estudio, constituyen una fauna de increíble diversidad con adaptaciones morfológicas extraordinarias.

    The Venezuelan Llanos are of a recent formation with marked seasons, high temperatures, floods and severe drought; the water that accumulates in the depressions is a melting point for an extraordinary diversity of birds, where the heron stands out along with the cormorant and corocoras, migrating birds and others that share the space such as the chigüire, wild pigs, and a multitude of amphibian species which include reptiles and the characteristic alligators (local name: babas).

     Among the fish from the rivers, streams and temporary lagoons of the Llanos, the “temblador” stands out, electric fish that were a fascination for Alejandro Humboldt! also the caribes (piranhas) with their sharp teeth, the striped catfish, valentones and many others.

     Two very important biological systems due to their productivity and serving as refuge to important species are the gallery forests and morichales (tract of land planted with mirity palms.) The first is shelter to deer, iguanas, various species of turtles or morrocoyes, a number of reptiles and amphibian, as well as birds that nest in the trees by the edge of the water courses. The mirity palms (moriche), grouped in the low flooded zones, are also shelter to birds such as the sparrow hawk and the macaw, and rodent such as the barnacle and curious fishing bats.

     South of the Orinoco the land suffers a sudden elevation presenting the spectacular landscape of the Guayana Plateau, one of the oldest emerged zones on the planet. This is the habitat of numerous endemic animals such as the “Roraima frog” the “fake coral snakes”, birds such as the “soisola del Duida”, various species of marsupial, rodent and edentate that add up to a group of acuatic and terrestrial invertebrates which presently constitute an attraction for zoologists and ecologists from all over the world.

    The Andes region constitutes an important dispersion route for the fauna, the zone is exclusive of species such as the “frontine bear”, small insectivorous of the Cryptotis type, the sole representation of this group in the neotropical region. The diversity of birds in the Andes competes with that of the Llanos: the turpial - our national bird - the cristofue (tyrant flycatcher), the paraulatas (a variety of thrush), the robust paujies (cashew birds) and small colibris (humming birds). The reptiles are abundant and the very poisonous mapanares species (bush masters) stand out, corals and false corals, rattlesnakes and many species usually called “cazadoras” (hunters).

     The deciduous and the rain forests are also the home of important fauna that share common elements with the Llanos, such as the ocelot and other members of the feline species; deer, tapir and a great variety of monkeys.

     The extensive coastline and the insular territories are the link to the Caribbean fauna; numerous estuaries, coral reefs, mangroves, high and

    Low coasts, are home to thousands of invertebrate species where the shrimp, lobsters, crabs and other mollusk stand out. Among the estuary fish, the popular stripped mullet is easily found (Maracaibo Lake, the lagoons by the coast such as Unare and Tacarigua), flounder, catfish, tamborines and curbinas, whose presence is determined by the dominance of fresh or sea water.

     Mangroves constitute one of the most important biological refuge systems in the country to numerous birds and an area for the juvenile development of many fish, they serve as habitat to rich land fauna which competes with the acuatic forms. Among a hundred or more birds observed in the mangroves, the sparrow hawk, pelicans, red and white corocoros, cotuas, tijeretas and many more abound. So does the presence of insects.

     In contrast to the mangroves are the xerophyte and thicket zones for which many islands off the coast of Venezuela are characterized. In these zones the reptiles are numerous, such as the “matos”. Iguanas and rattlesnakes.

    Rodent mammals such as the rabbit, fox and porcupines. Under the rocks are the scarab and scorpions alternating with other insects and arachnid with interesting biological and morphological adaptations, oriented towards the water’s economy.

     The continental fish fauna is immensely rich and yet to be discovered, an estimate of the presence of 700 to 1.000 different species, to name a few: the catfish, rays, tembladores, caribes, cachamas and morocotos, are some of the most evident species.

     The acuatic mammals like the “perros de agua” (water dogs) and the manatee, stand out along with the dolphin and the huge reptiles such as the water serpents and the Orinoco alligator.

     This extraordinary fauna constitutes one of the most valuable elements of the country and efforts are constantly being made to protect it through different means: National Parks Refuges for Fauna, exploitation laws and regulations.

     Nonetheless, there are species in danger and human activity makes up for the great damage and pressure on the environment, which is rapidly limiting the natural ecosystems.

Fuente: Antonio Machado, Carlos Machado.






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