A recently compiled Who’s who of Bolivian mammals describes over a hundred species endemic to Bolivia, shedding light on the country’s vast wildlife diversity.

Count Branikii’s Terrible Mouse, also known as a pacarana. Weighing up to 30 pounds and looking like a cross between a Capybara and a skunk, this slow-moving nocturnal rodent is named after a Polish count who first described the species in the 1870s. (Photo: Rene Wuest-ZGAP)

    The survey includes animals ranging from the pacarana to the Tolkein-like Chacoan fairy armadillo.
Armadillo:Bolivia

Chacoan fairy armadillo — A burrowing species that lives in very specific sandy habitats of the Chacoan tropical dry forests in the lowlands of southern Bolivia. (Photo: Luis Acosta)

In between are a host of better known species such as the jaguar, bush dog, black spider monkey, vicuna, giant anteater, and the water opossum,

Jaguar/Bolivia. Camera trap photo.

Bolivia is teeming with wildlife. Madidi National park in the northwestern part of the country may be the most biologically diverse place on earth.

Parrot snake, one of at least 50 species of snake in Madidi National Park. (Photo: Mileniusz Spanowicz/WCS)

    Ranging from lowland tropical forests of the Amazon to snow-capped peaks of the High Andes, the 7,335 square mile (19,000 square-kilometer) park contains 11 percent of the world’s birds, more than 200 species of mammals, almost 300 types of fish, and 12,000 plant varieties.

Camera trap image of tapir in Madidi-Tambopata Landscape. (Photo: Wildlife Conservation Society)

Bordering Peru, Madidi is estimated to hold a population of at least 14,500 lowland tapirs making it one of the most important strongholds for the species on the continent. But as elsewhere, species are winking out.

Maned wolf.

    The ancient Beni savanna is home to the Maned wolf. Demand for farmland and pressure to convert the ancient savanna into cattle pasture and soy fields has been disastrous for the species which is fighting for survival. Less than 1000 remain in the wild.

The Barba Azul Nature Reserve is home to the critically endangered Blue-throated Macaw. The bird is almost impossible to see given there are only 300 of them in an area almost twice the size of Texas.

Blue throated Macaw/Bolivia. (Photo: Paul B. Jones)

The bird was thought lost until the discovery a few years ago of a large roosting site.


Compiling the database helped biologists in Bolivia identify where there is a lack of information about specific species and geographic areas where few records exist. For example, a small spotted cat called the oncilla is expected to occur across at least 50 percent of the country but there have only been 19 confirmed records to date.

Oncilla/Bolivia. Camera trap photo.


Shout Out: Science Daily.

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