Flora and fauna

FLORA AND FAUNA

Originally these volcanic islands were devoid of vegetation, but plants have been introduced from other parts of Africa and the Americas, some being brought by travellers and others arriving by more natural means, such as the wind and birds. The soils in the archipelago are varied and therefore there are many species to be found. Considerably more than were present at the time the islands were discovered in the 15th Century.

One of the more spectacular trees, rarely found in Europe is the flame tree (Delonix Regia). They display bright red flowers and fern type leaves. Other trees found in the islands include Acacia and various varieties of palm tree. On some of the more mountainous islands, such as Santo Antão bananas, mango and the beautiful blue flowering jacaranda trees can be found.

Other plants that thrive here are cactus of various kinds, euphorbia, hibiscus, canna lilies and various types of succulent.

The waters around Cape Verde are rich in sea life. Giant humpback whales and loggerhead turtles can be seen from many of the islands, such as Sal, Maio and Boa Vista. Most islands offer diving where ship-wrecks and reefs can be explored alongside whales, dolphins, octopus and parrot fish. 18 species of whales and dolphin and five species of turtle have been recorded around Cape Verde. The Cape Verdean waters are one of only two breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere for the humpback whale. Open waters provide an abundance of aquatic life with plenty of big game fishing. Cape Verde is one of the world’s leading diving and surfing destinations – some would argue the best.

Turtles are probably the animals that people most associate with Cape Verde. Loggerhead turtles, an endangered species, nest on the islands between June and October. They create nests in the sand dunes and lay their eggs. When hatched the babies make their way to the sea.

Birds are in abundance, including shearwaters, brown boobys, petrels and the intriguing frigate bird, the male displaying a distinctive bright red pouch below its beak. Approximately 130 migrant birds visit Cape Verde, and of those about 40 nest on the islands. The islands present a paradise for ornithologists.

Lizards and geckos can be found, although some species are now extinct.

One of the best references for endemic plants and animals of Cape Verde is Arkive. Whether you are diving, trekking or or bird watching you will find this site really useful. Follow this link for over 160 plant, animal, bird, reptile Species in Cape Verde