Animals and Plants
Animals and plants in Peru
Peru is one of the countries in the world with a particularly large number of species. The coast, the Andes and the rainforest offer the most varied of species the best living conditions. Many species are endemic, so they only occur here. To protect its nature, Peru has placed 74 areas under protection. These include 12 national parks.
Which animals live in Peru?
A multitude of animal species live in the diverse landscapes of Peru. They include more than 460 species of mammals, 1,800 birds and around 400 amphibians and reptiles each – crocodiles, lizards and turtles, for example.
The mammals include the Andean jackal, which lives with the spectacled bear in the Andes. Vicunas and guanacos also feel at home in the highlands, the South American camel species – because they actually belong to camels, but they have no hump. The chinchilla lives in the southern Andes of Peru.
The makibear, on the other hand, feels at home in the rainforest, together with sloths and the red monkey. There are also predators in the rainforest, the jaguar, the puma, the jaguarundi, the ocelot, the tiger cat, the long-tailed cat, the tayra (a marten), the crab raccoon and the coati. The mountain cat is particularly rare and threatened with extinction. The Amazon dolphin cavort in the rivers. A mighty fish is also at home here, the arapaima, which swims in the Río Ucayali, for example. Arapaimas grow up to two meters long.
Parrots, toucans and hummingbirds are typical birds of the rainforest for us and they actually live in Peru. The giant hummingbird is more at home in the mountains, as is the bright red Andean cliff bird. Incidentally, it is the national bird of Peru.
More inconspicuous, but no less pretty, are the waterfowl on the coast. There are chile pelicans, Humboldt penguins, guano boobies and guanocormorants. The Andean condor is particularly powerful. When it spreads its wings, it measures up to three meters. The harpy is a bit smaller. The Titicaca diver lives on Lake Titicaca.
What is growing there in Peru?
More than 17,000 plant species have already been counted in Peru. The biodiversity on the coast is lower than in the rainforest, because only those plants that like dry and sandy soils can thrive here. Mainly grasses and bushes grow here. You can also find cacti here. The plants that grow here have to cope with drought in any case. On the northern, more humid coast, there are mangroves and kapok trees at the mouths of the Tumbes and Piura rivers.
In the Andes, the vegetation depends on the altitude. On the hot and humid edges of the mountain ranges, at an altitude of 500 meters or more, we find the dense forests of the Yungas. The tara tree and the Peruvian pepper tree grow here. Cacti such as the San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi) grow in the high plateaus of the Altiplano. Agaves can also be found.
Páramo and rainforest
Páramos can be found at altitudes above 3000 meters. It is humid and cool here and so mainly grasses and small shrubs such as Espeletia species and other rosette plants grow here. The puya plants are also typical. From their rosettes, i.e. the wreath of leaves, a high inflorescence grows in the middle – after many years. Kantuta plants produce pretty flowers, for example Cantua buxifolia. It is considered the national flower of Peru. You can see them in the picture on the left.
The biodiversity is particularly great in the rainforest. Trees such as the red cinchona tree, cedars, mahogany trees and cat’s claws grow here. Orchids are common. The giant Amazon water lily can be found on the rivers. Its leaves grow up to 3 meters in diameter and can even carry a small child. Many species of heliconia are found in the rainforest and in the cloud forest higher up. They are also called lobster claws because of their striking flowers. Passion flowers also form pretty flowers.
Peru’s natural resources
Peru’s economy is dependent on the country’s rich natural resources. Above all silver, gold, zinc and copper are stored in the Peruvian soil. Their sale to other countries (export) brings the greatest income to the economy, led by gold and copper. Peru is the world’s largest producer of silver, the second largest of copper and the sixth largest producer of gold. Tin, lead and iron ore are also mined.
Their industrial processing represents an important branch of industry. Their worldwide export brings Peru the highest foreign exchange income. This means that the economy is also dependent on world market prices. If prices fall, so do income. Unfortunately, mining also repeatedly leads to environmental problems, for example when previously untouched areas are cleared or when chemicals pollute the soil.
Fishing is also very important. After mining, it is the second main source of income. The production of fish meal and fish oil is particularly important, but fresh fish and canned fish are also produced.
One problem is the overfishing of the waters of the cold and oxygen-rich Humboldt Current, which are extremely rich in fish, especially if, as a result of El Niño, a south-facing warm water current coming from Ecuador causes the Humboldt Current to be displaced. The huge swarms of anchovies – a type of anchovy from which the fish meal, which is important for the animal feed industry – is then obtained.
Agriculture in Peru
Agriculture contributes only 7.6 percent to the country’s economic output (GDP). However, 25.8 percent of people work in this field. Coffee is sold abroad, but also asparagus and grapes that are not traditionally grown. Peru is the sixth largest producer of coffee, the largest for quinoa and the second largest for asparagus.
Other export products are mangoes and avocados. Rice and sugar cane are grown on the northern coast, where large areas of them are artificially irrigated. Cocoa, cotton, potatoes, plantains, pineapples, lemons, oranges, guavas and tomatoes are also grown.
Industry in Peru
Industry generates 32.7 percent, but only 17.4 percent of the people work in it. In addition to the mining and processing of ores, fish, clothing, food, beverages and chemical products such as fertilizers or synthetic fibers are also processed or manufactured. Oil and natural gas are also extracted and refined. They do not play a major role in export, but are needed and used in the country itself. Wool, cotton and jute are mainly processed by small businesses.
Almost 60 percent of GDP is provided by the services and about that many people work here. Tourism in particular is an important source of income for Peru. The ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu is one of the most important destinations for tourists in South America. More than three million tourists come to Peru every year. Power generation is another important area.