El Salvador Animals

The Relatively Few Animals In El Salvador

One would quite naturally think there would be a huge variety of animals in El Salvador. After all, El Salvador is a Central American country, and the countries in Central and South America, especially those surrounding the Amazon Basin, are noted for being host to hundreds and even thousands of species of animals, birds, and fish, not to mention plants and insects.



Small Size Places Limitations - El Salvador however is a little different, and it isn't all that challenging to put together a reasonably complete listing of the different animals in El Salvador. There are a couple of reasons for this. One reason is that El Salvador is a small country, both in area and population. It is squeezed in between Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the Pacific Ocean. Other countries in Central America are also small. Take Panama and Costa Rica for example. Yet those two countries, especially Costa Rica, are relatively rich in different animal species.

Agriculture Places Other Limitations - The other reason for a seemingly small number of species, and main reason, is that El Salvador is primarily an agricultural country. Most of the forests have long since been cleared, and even though the remaining forests are tropical forests, they don't cover a very large area. Other small countries, like the Netherlands and Denmark, which are almost exclusively agricultural as well, have even fewer species of animals than El Salvador. We usually don't picture El Salvador as being largely farmland, but tend to picture is as another Costa Rica, which is  covered with tropical forests, the majority of which are in national parks. The fact is, in most of El Salvador, wild animals have few places to hide or to propagate, outside of the forested areas.

So, if you take a small country and take out nearly 90% of the forests, you won't see thousands of species of birds or wild animals roaming about. What then will you find when looking for animals in El Salvador?

One would not expect to find too many larger predators, but there are some, namely the jaguar, the puma, and the ocelot, which is somewhat smaller, as is the coyote. The other mammals consist of lemurs, several species of monkey, the tapir, specifically Baird's tapir, and several species of bat, including the Honduran Fruit-eating bat and the Southern Long-nosed bat. There are, as would be expected, a number of smaller mammals, the various rodents and other ground dwellers.

The Species Count - Studies done under the auspices of the United Nations indicate the known species of mammals in El Salvador numbers 135, with the above-mentioned anteater, tapir and the two species of bat being on the threatened or endangered list. In addition there are 141 known species of birds, none of which appears at this time to be endangered or threatened. One bird, a colorful little green bird called the Turquoise-bowed Motmot, is El Salvador's national animal. The base green color is accented by stripes and patches of blue and black. The Motmot's appearance definitively is deserving of that kind of national attention.

In addition to mammals, El Salvador is home to 106 different species of reptiles, 30 species of amphibians, and at least 113 different species of fish, although bordering the Pacific Ocean can easily make this last figure a variable.

A Reasonably Stable Situation - Fortunately for the wild animals in El Salvador, the remaining forested areas are now largely protected, and there does not appear to be any imminent danger or threat of their extinction. Still, with a population of over 5,000,000 there will continue to be pressures to expand the area currently used for agriculture, though at the moment, the country is generally self-sufficient as far as being able to feed itself.