Wildlife of Portugal
The wildlife of Portugal is a mixture of European and North African types. As in Spain, the wild goat, wild pig, and deer can be found in the countryside. The wolf survives in the remote parts of the far north and northeast, and the lynx inhabits the Malcata Mountains. The fox, rabbit, and Iberian hare are ubiquitous. Birdlife is rich because the peninsula lies on the winter migration route of western and central European species. Hunting zones cover nearly one-third of Portugal. In the Azores, only the smaller mammals are found—such as the rabbit, weasel, ferret, rat (brown and black), and mouse as well as various types of bats. Game birds include woodcock, red partridge, quail, and snipe. The highly endangered Mediterranean monk seal is native to Madeira’s Desertas Islands, which were designated a nature reserve in 1990. Some 40 species of birds breed there, including the Madeira laurel pigeon and the Zino’s petrel. The variety of beetles (nearly 700 species, many indigenous) and moths (more than 100 species, about one-fourth of which are peculiar to the Madeiras) is remarkable.
Sado estuary, western Portugal – A broad, shallow estuary to the south of Lisboa, of international significance for its breeding and wintering waterbirds and also encompassing well-conserved sand-dune habitats with a rich endemic flora.
The mudflats and sandbanks of the Sado estuary, just south of Lisbon, swarm with all manner of slimy and cold-blooded inhabitants. From the plodding Spanish terrapin, to spiny-footed lizards, marbled newts, west Iberian painted frogs and the Montpellier snake there’s plenty to keep an eye out for; voles, otters, bats, polecats and dolphins thrive here too, and it’s one of the best bird-watching spots in Portugal.
Portugal’s climate and topology make it one of Europe’s premier birdwatching destinations. In the centre of the country are its highest peaks and the lovely Tagus International River Natural Park. We’ve put togther an itinerary that features these two fantastic destinations, great for mammals and birds, and staying at wonderful accommodations where you can relax after your days’ activities.
More than half Portugal’s wildlife has come under threat of extinction since the country joined the European Union 20 years ago – and massive redevelopment made possible by EU cash is at least partly to blame, environmental groups have told the BBC.
Portugal’s ecological footprint is now higher than major economic powerhouses like Japan and Germany. Were everyone to use resources at the same rate as the country, three planets would be required.