The Coto Donana
This part of Spain is considered to be one of the most important of the world’s protected areas. It provides a crucial habitat for those migratory birds that pass by on their way from Europe to Africa and, of course, is the only place on the planet that the Lynx still survives. The spectacular landscape is made up of two major ecosystems: the Mediterranean pinewoods and scrubland, and the huge salt marshes, which are part of a large floodplain. The scrubland is supported by one of the largest aquifers in Spain and, consequently, the area sees many species of plants, including rockroses, rosemary and the mastic tree.
The Iberian Lynx and Other Creatures
Definitely the most biodiverse area in Europe, the Donana is a wonderful place to explore on a wildlife holiday. There are over 300 species of birds that can be seen, and 130 of those make this place their home during the breeding season. There are also 37 species of mammals, 21 different reptiles, 11 amphibians and plenty of freshwater fish species. The number of insects is still debated but it is certainly enormous.
The king of the Donana is definitely the Iberian Lynx and is certainly the star on any wildlife holiday. These timid creatures have steadily decreased in number over the last 200 years and southern Spain is the only place where isolated breeding populations have been seen. Heavily spotted and with long legs, the feline has a short tail and a distinct beard around its face. They also have prominent black spots on the ears.
Other creatures to look out for on a wildlife holiday to this area of Spain include the Spanish Imperial Eagle, which is another of this area’s most famous inhabitants. There are only around 10 pairs living in the park and the bird is also considered endangered.
The Spur-thighed Tortoise joins the group of species whose existence is threatened and which has found refuge in this region. There is something quite magical about these ancient looking reptiles and it is hard to believe that one day they may no longer be with us.