In our continuing series on ecotourism, this month we will take a look at one of the most important rules of not doing harm while you travel: respecting the local flora and fauna. There are endangered species all over the world, and Yucatán is no exception.
There are endangered birds, reptiles, sea life, primates, felines, rodents, and mammals in the Yucatán peninsula. Here we will discuss some of them.
Endangered birds include a variety of hummingbird, macaw, parrot, magpie, and quail, among many others. One member of the hummingbird family of Yucatán, the Colibrí Tijereta (scientific name Doncha Eliza) has a beauty far outweighing its diminutive size, and its name comes from its scissor-like tail. The human eye cannot see the movement of its wings, which move up to 80 times per second! This species is endemic to Mexico, and does not migrate between Canada and South America, as other species of hummingbird do. Anyone who has marveled at the unique flight manner of this bird knows that it is an important link in the pollen chain, taking nectar from flowers. It takes its nourishment from eating insects and spiders. The beauty of this bird’s plumage is one of its causes of danger, as humans have trapped the bird for its feathers.
Crocodiles are the subject of terror and dislike. Misunderstood by many, this large reptile has survived since the dinosaur era! Its skin is the reason it is in danger, hunted by humans for use as shoes, purses, belts, and other leather items. Its meat is also consumed, and some want the animal as an exotic pet.
A Yucatán favorite of many visitors is the spider monkey. Unfortunately, our indiscriminate deforestation habits are causing this popular primate to disappear. It is unlikely that you will see one on your visit here. The spider monkey is known for its use of its tail as a fifth hand. These tiny monkeys are no more than 13 to 17 inches long. The female only gives birth to one young at a time, and her gestation period lasts 139 days. This relatively slow reproduction process also contributes to the difficulty of increasing its population numbers.
The breathtakingly beautiful jaguar is the largest feline of the Americas. Like its smaller African cousin, the leopard, the jaguar’s amber coat is decorated with black spots shaped like rosebuds. Its robust body and powerful jaws make it a fierce hunter. Due to decreasing habitat, the jaguar has become a threat to cattle. In an effort to protect their herds, ranchers kill jaguars, and they are also hunted for their coats. The Maya admired them for their bravery and skill, and they are the subject of several Maya legends.
Harming, capturing, or killing any of these or other endangered species in Yucatán is illegal. Many government agencies and organizations such as Pro Natura are working on ways to protect these species, with the use of relocation programs and other strategies. You can help by not buying any product which comes from an endangered species.
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