Fauna and Flora

Large mammals were not known on Hispaniola due to its isolation over millions of years. Among the few mammals native of the island are bats, the bottlenose dolphin, Antillean Manatee (Trichechus manatus) and two small land animals in danger of extinction, the solenodon and the hutia.


Antillean Manatee


Rhinoceros Iguana

The Antillean Manatee and the Humpback Whales are two attractive, large sized mammals. The first one is almost extinct and the second stays every year, during three months (December/march) for its mating on the Bay of Samana In the northeastern part of the island.

Cow, pigs, donkeys and horses were all imported by the Spaniards. The European also brought mica, rats and cats on their ships. Mongooses, originally imported from India to combat the rats, have become a pest. Eighteen species of bats have been found in the country. Bird life is very rich on Hispaniola and 254 species (22 endemic) are known, about half of which live in the aquatic environment. Two indigenous birds that are now difficult to find are the Hispaniolan parrot and the perico.

Among the most famous local reptiles (1411 species with 83% of them endemic) are the American crocodile, the rhinoceros iguana and the Ricardo iguana. All three are endangered species but can often be seen in Isla Cabritos National Park. All snakes on the island are nonpoisonous. Frogs, mainly tree frogs, are abundant and can be quite noisy, living on palm and banana trees as well as telephone posts. Lizards are seen everywhere and 21 different species are known. The lizards all have in common a thin, often colorful skin along their throats, which is blown up like a balloon when they are threatened.

The tropical climate of Hispaniola and the variations in elevations, rainfall and soil have produced a variety of plant habitats, ranging from dry areas to coniferous forests in the mountains. About 36% of the 5,600 plant species on the Island of Hispaniola are common.

The lush vegetation is found in the humid forests of the eastern mountain region. Local mahogany is abundant and was used in the construction of the first cathedral in 1540. Other native trees are the ceiba (silk cotton tree) known for its enormous size and long life (up to 300 years), Dominican magnolia, the bija and mammon tree. There are tree ferns and numerous bromeliad, orchids in the country's forests, such as Sierra de Bahoruco National Park. Higher mountain zones are dominated by the cerulean pine tree, while the desert and semiarid areas dominated by cacti agaves terrain. For more information go to www.agricultura.gov.do