This is a story that you don’t expect to read when someone mentions Colombia. It’s usually about drugs isn’t it, so when I came across this article while participating in a Spanish language course, I was truly amazed. When I mentioned its contents to Ken he gave me a funny look because he sometimes has the opinion that I’m ignorant of the wonders of the world. Well, he has a vast knowledge of the south americas, being very interested in fauna and flora especially bird species, so I’ll leave him to his scepticism about me !!
Encompassing 314 different coastal and continental ecosystems, Colombia holds within its borders the richest complexity of ecological, climatic, biological and ecosystem components imaginable.
Colombia is a country favoured by its natural resources, the variety of its geography and diversity of its ecosystems. It has a great variety of mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, plateaus, valleys and savannas. There is also a considerable number of streams, creeks, rivers and lakes in the country, which contributes to its thriving biodiversity. Ecosystems, species and genetic diversity together form the complex concept of biodiversity that is vital to the survival on this planet. Behind Brazil, Colombia is the second-highest country in terms of biodiversity, home to more than 56,000 different species, 16% of which are only found within the country’s borders.
Covering only 0.8% of the earth’s surface, Colombia hosts 18% of the 10,507 known bird species and around 60% of the bird species found in South America. With nearly 2,000 different bird species, the nation is the first in the world when it comes to the number of bird species. It is also home to 479 mammal species, 534 different kinds of reptiles, 763 amphibians and 3,435 different types of fish. There is an estimate of 300,000 species of invertebrates in the country of which only 10 to 20% have been studied. Among them, we can refer to more than 3,273 kinds of butterflies, 900 types of ants and more than 7,000 different classes of beetles. Among those species exclusive to Colombia we can name the American flamingo, the Andean condor, the Andean poison frog, the harlequin poison frog, the indigo capped hummingbird and a number of colourful monkey species and some incredibly beautiful butterflies.
Within Colombian borders, there are more than 40,000 different plant species. Again, it is the number one country in the world, considering the astonishing number of different species of orchid flowers: 4,010 different species to be precise. There are also more than 230 different species of palm trees and even some species of colour-changing flowers.
Colombian biodiversity is at risk, with around 1,500 species reported to be on different levels of extinction risk. This is caused mainly by urbanization and overexploitation of natural resources. These blooming ecosystems may seem permanent, but they are actually susceptible to collapse.
© Universidad Nacional de Córdoba