Wildlife & Nature

Wildlife in the Dominican Republic

Ricord's Iguana (Cyclura ricordi), Lake Enriquillo

Photo: Alamy

The Dominican wildlife dynamic is beginning to take center stage, as travelers are discovering the natural wealth of the DR's unique ecosystem.

Since the time of the native Taíno, the Dominican Republic has preserved a significant portion of its ecological landscape and rich endemic Biodiversity, with over 6,000 plant species that tropical birds, land mammals, reptiles, and amphibians call home.

 

This greater Antillean nation is surrounded by Caribbean and Oceanic waters that sustain more than 800 species of fish - from mammoth humpback whales, manatees, and dolphins - to smaller crustaceans and mollusks.

Sea turtle swimming in the sea.

Hawksbill sea turtle

Photo: Shutterstock

Aquatic Life

The Dominican Republic is a high-ranking destination for recreational snorkelers, deep-sea divers, and marine biologists worldwide.

 

Along the scenic coastal shores, locations like Monte Criti's Subaquatic National Park are decorated with brilliant coral reefs that can extend up to 249 Km2 - as the depths in Los Haitises National Park serve as a breeding ground for northern humpback whales in their mating season.

 

The warmer Caribbean coastal regions of Pedernales, La Romana-Bayahibe, and Punta Cana possess the ideal environment for prehistoric manatees, bottlenose and spinner dolphins, endangered hawksbill sea turtles, and colorful coralline fish.

Natural Habitats

You'll find all types of aquatic creatures in Rivers, Lakes, Subterranean Caverns, and Lagoons through and out.

 

 

Protected Reserves

 

 

Ricords Iguana head.

Ricords Iguana (Cyclura ricordi) on Isla Cabritos

Photo: Javier Gautier

Land Mammals and Reptiles

Although the island of Hispaniola isn't known for having a wider variety of land mammal species - compared to their aquatic and winged counterparts - the few that roam are unique in their own right.

 

At the Jaragua National Park, part of the La Selle-Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve, a varied mammal and reptile presence can be appreciated in the dry subtropical weather like the prehistoric solenodon, ricord's, and rhino iguanas, and the hutia congo.

 

The largest reptiles within the reserve are American crocodiles that thrive in the waters of Lake Enriquillo, the largest lake in the Caribbean.

 

Flying through the night sky, sooty-mustached and Antillean ghost-faced bats are the most abundant mammal species living amidst the trees.

Natural Habitats

The best places to catch any one of these furry or scaly creatures are broadleaf, dry and semi-arid subtropical forests, coconut groves, and dense vegetation.

 

Protected reserves

- Sierra de Bahoruco National Reserve

 

- Isla Cabrito National Park

 

- Las Neblinas Natural Reserve

Magnificent Frigatebird on branch.

Magnificent frigatebird (Fregata magnificens), Azua

Photo: Javier Gautier

Birdlife

321 bird species are widely present throughout the national territory and are found in every environment, whether it be desert savannas or pine-covered mountain ranges.

 

As one of the greater Antillean nations, the Dominican Republic offers 1,288 kilometers of coastline that serves as a transient haven for pelagic or oceanic bird species from around the Caribbean.  Many of which include the bridled and sooty tern, red-footed booby and brown noddy, the magnificent frigatebird, and yellow warbler.

 

Within the mainland and significant rural territories in the El Cibao region, 31 rare and endemic tropical birds show off the eccentric qualities and color schemes that make up their plumage.

 

Among the most-watched and sought after by international bird enthusiasts and locals alike are:

  • - Hispaniolan Woodpecker
  • - Trogón
  • - Antillean Euphonia
  • - Chicuí Barrancolí

Natural Habitats

Birds are the most all-encompassing fauna on La Hispaniola and can be found in every oceanic, terrestrial, and aerial space.  But if you're looking for a broader range of diversity, look no further than the Cordillera Central (central mountain range), the Hispaniolan pine and mangrove forests, river basins, and national parks.

 

Protected Reserves


Written by Omar Guzman.

 

Published April 2022.


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