Peru is rich with diversity on every scale--from its people, to its climates and regions, and especially with its abundance of wildlife. But some of those animals are endangered and could become extinct, which would be unfortunate because they are an integral part of what makes this country so beautiful.
Efforts to conserve these creatures are being made in almost every corner of the country. However, with large-scale development, rapid exhaustion of energy resources, and the destruction of natural habitats, these animals are more at risk than ever before.
So, the best way to keep these animals around is to learn about them and their habitats. In this brief article, let’s look at some this country’s unique creatures and where you can find them on your next trip around Peru.
Penguins in Islas Ballestas
The Islas Ballestas, known as the “poor man’s Galapagos” are a chain of rocky islands just off the shore of Paracas and make a great weekend trip if your based in Lima. Over 150 types of seabirds, including the Humboldt penguin call these islands home.
The Humboldt penguins live along the coast of Peru and Chile and weigh about 10 pounds. They are named after the cool nutrient-rich current that runs along the western shore of the Americas.
Though no one is physically allowed on the islands, you can contract a guided marine wildlife tour from a local agency in Paracas or Lima. The Islas Ballestas are also home to large sea lions and other marine life.
Flamingos in the Altiplano
There are three types of flamingos found in Peru: the Jame’s flamingo, the Andean flamingo, and the Chilean flamingo. All of them live in the highland altiplano of central and southern Peru.
The typical tourist seldom traverses this rugged region, so one of the most common places to see these long-legged birds is in the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve.
The reserve covers more 360,000 hectares and is located about 4,300 meters above sea level and is located conveniently midway between the colonial city of Arequipa and the famed Colca Canyon.
The best way to see the Peruvian flamingos is by renting a car or hiring a full-day taxi driver to take you out to the altiplano.
Anacondas in the amazon
The anaconda is the largest snake in the world. It can grow up to 29 feet long and can reach a weight of more than 500 pounds. Its habitat includes South American swamps and stream in the Amazon and Orinoca basins, including surrounding Peru’s city of Iquitos.
Home to numerous strange jungle creatures, including the pink river dolphin, Iquitos is probably the best base for Amazon excursions if you’re hoping to see anacondas.
The jungle is a dangerous place and we strongly recommend that you visit with a tour. To see this and other amazon creatures in person, you can book a weeklong excursion using a Peruvian Amazon touring company.
Spectacled bears in the Peruvian Andes
The only bear in South America is shy with distinctive light colored markings around their eyes. Also called Andean bears, spectacled bears have a wide-ranging habitat but prefer cloud forests.
The bears are a threatened species with only around 3,00 left in the wild. Yet, trekkers in the Peruvian Andes have often spotted them.
Spectacled beard are primarily vegetarian and solitary, so hikers should consider themselves fortunate and should not feel threatened if they stumble upon one in the wild.
To see these South American wonders, we recommend that you hike in smaller groups during treks through the Peruvian Andes. Incan trail tours are the most popular avenue, but you may have more luck in spotting one of these “nerds of the Andes” by doing an alternative trek with less people.
Cock-of-the-rock in the cloud forest
The Andean cock-of-the-rock is a medium-sized bird with a large disk-like crest and scarlet or brilliant orange plumage. The flamboyant birds are regarded as the national bird of Peru.
The cock-of-the-rock is found in the cloud forests of the Andes range, mostly in ravines and forested streams at elevation around 1,500 meters. Though brightly colored, this bird is generally shy and often seen only briefly after being flushed or swiftly flying down a valley.
Though accurate population levels have not been measured, the cock-of-the-rock is not threatened. The species is evaluated as Least Concern according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
The decoy spider is one of the most unique animals on earth. This small spider constructs a bigger, scarier spider in its web completely out of debris and dead insect parts.
Researchers are still trying to figure out why it does this, but it likely has to do with confusing predators and increasing its chances of survival. This spider was recently discovered and is the only animal ever recorded to construct a larger version of itself.
The only place to see this spider is in Tambopata National Reserve and the Bahajua-Sonene National Park near Puerto Maldonado.
The decoy spider and the other animals above show that Peru is home to some of the most sophisticated and mysterious wildlife on the planet.
Photography - Wikimedia