Morocco is a diverse North African country boasting over 40 different ecosystems, made up of a land full of arid desert, bushy forests, and picturesque mountains. In this melting pot of diversity lives a whole host of interesting plants and unique animals, most of which are unfortunately at risk due to deforestation and the expansion of human populations. Luckily, national parks, forest reserves, and biological reserves have managed to preserve Morocco’s rich tapestry of plant and animal life.
Marine and coastal life
Morocco’s coast is home to both the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, resulting in a wide range of marine and coastal life to enjoy. The sea is alive with dolphins and porpoises, and is still home to the increasingly endangered Mediterranean monk seal. A variety of sea birds live around the coasts, including gulls, terns, albatross, gannets, pelican, the purple heron, the crested coot, and the marble duck. The coastland of Morocco is mainly deserted and animals found here include wild boars, falcons, lizards, ground squirrels, the African wild cat and the Algerian hedgehog.
Many of Morocco’s birds are indigenous, with around 450 different species being native to the country. Many of these birds are considered to be rare and 15 species are currently endangered. However, sanctuary’s such as the Souss Massa and Toubkal biological reserves have helped keep many of these species alive. Morocco’s birds reflect the diversity of the land and along with coastal birds there’s also plenty of inland birds that include owls, pheasants, woodpeckers, geese, storks, owls, kites, hoopoes, flamingos, and Morocco’s biggest bird of all; the ostrich. The country is also home to the endangered bald ibis.
Animals and insects
Animals come in all shapes and sizes in Morocco and amongst them you’ll find the Dorcas gazelle and the Fennec fox, both the smallest of their kind in the world. Other animals that can be found in the country include the mountain dwelling and endangered Barbary lion, the Barbary monkeys, elephants, camels, jackals, and plenty of rodents and gerbils. Morocco is also home to a variety of insect life, including scorpions and a range of unique and beautifully colourful butterflies.
Reptiles and lizards
Abundant throughout Morocco are whole host of reptiles and lizards, and many of those are only found in this part of the world, including the Atlas mountain viper, the mountain skink, and the aptly named Moroccan day lizard. Another popular addition to Moroccan reptile life is the Egyptian cobra, the most common cobra found in North Africa. These deadly snakes can be found in the Moroccan desert, are nocturnal creatures, and although they can kill with their highly toxic venom, reports on them attacking humans are rare. If you do come across one, then it can be a very special and probably quite frightening sight. Some Egyptian cobras can grow up to a whopping 2.5 metres in length.
Coastal regions, sprawling deserts, and rugged mountain ranges give Morocco plenty of ammunition to lay claim to a thriving mix of plant species. Thousands of different plants can be found throughout the country. The mountains are home to evergreen, oak, juniper, fir, cedar, and pine forests, many of which remain preserved by the country’s national parks. The deserted plains are perfect habitats for cork oaks, alfalfa grass, scrub bushes and argan-thorny trees. The coast provides an adequate supply of water in an otherwise hot and dry landscape, and is home to plants such as loquat, eucalyptus, and acacia.