Wildlife of Europe Series - Portugal
Portugal is a country rich in wildlife, boasting a variety of habitats that range from the rugged coastlines to the lush forests, mountain ranges, and wetlands. This diverse geography provides many opportunities for the existence of a wide range of animal and plant species. From the iconic Iberian lynx to the rare birds of prey, Portugal's wildlife is a true wonder to behold.
Portugal has a diverse mammal population, with over 100 species inhabiting the country. The most famous of these is the Iberian lynx, which is one of the rarest and most endangered cats in the world. Other notable mammals include the wild boar, the red fox, the European otter, and the European badger. The country is also home to a variety of smaller mammals such as the European pine marten, the common genet, and the Mediterranean monk seal.
Portugal is a paradise for bird watchers, with over 500 species of birds recorded in the country. The country's coastal regions are particularly rich in birdlife, and the wetlands of the Tagus and Sado estuaries are famous for hosting a variety of rare and endangered species. Some of the most notable birds of Portugal include the Bonelli's eagle, the black stork, the white stork, the Iberian imperial eagle, and the lesser kestrel. The country is also home to several species of gulls, terns, and waders.
Reptiles and Amphibians
Portugal's warm climate and varied landscapes make it an ideal habitat for a wide range of reptiles and amphibians. The country is home to 13 species of reptiles, including the Iberian emerald lizard, the ocellated lizard, the viperine snake, and the Montpellier snake. Portugal is also home to a diverse range of amphibians, with over 20 species found in the country. The most common of these include the midwife toad, the common toad, the natterjack toad, and the European tree frog.
Fish and Marine Life
Portugal's long coastline and numerous estuaries provide a rich habitat for a variety of fish and marine life. The country's waters are home to over 100 species of fish, including the famous sardine, which has been a staple of Portuguese cuisine for centuries. Other notable fish species include the Atlantic bluefin tuna, the Atlantic mackerel, and the European eel. Portugal's waters are also home to several species of sharks, dolphins, and whales.
Portugal's warm climate and varied landscapes provide ideal conditions for a wide variety of insects. The country is home to over 13,000 species of insects, including some of the rarest and most endangered species in Europe. Some of the most notable insects include the large blue butterfly, the scarlet dragonfly, and the lesser stag beetle. Portugal is also home to several species of bees and wasps, many of which are important pollinators.
Despite the rich diversity of wildlife in Portugal, many species are under threat due to habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change. In recent years, Portugal has made significant efforts to protect its wildlife and natural habitats. The country has established a network of protected areas, including 15 national parks and 37 nature reserves, which cover over 7% of the country's territory. These protected areas provide vital habitat for many of Portugal's endangered species, including the Iberian lynx and the Iberian imperial eagle.
In addition to protected areas, Portugal has also implemented several conservation programs aimed at protecting its wildlife. One of the most notable of these is the LIFE Lynx project, which is working to conserve the critically endangered Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus), with the stated goal of recovery to the historical distribution across Portugal as well as Spain.
Environmental protection initiatives are widely supported in Portugal and the European Union in general, so there’s hope for a healthy, thriving natural world for future generations to experience.
Watch: Reintroducing the Iberian Lynx