For a country which saw all of its seacoast become extinct in a 19th Century war, the South American nation of Bolivia is still recognized as one of the most environmentally diverse places on the planet. The major topographical feature of Bolivia are twin strands of the great Andes Mountains running north to south down the western side of the country. In between these two chains is the 12,000 foot high valley known as the Altiplano and Bolivia’s twin capital cities, Sucre and La Paz. On the eastern side of the mountain ranges, the terrain descends down into the drainage basin of the Amazon River where features typical of a tropical jungle prevail.
The Official National Animal of Bolivia
Not surprisingly, the Llama is the national animal of Bolivia. This distinctive South American draft animal has been used by humanity going clear back to the lost civilizations of the Inca and beyond. Incidentally, the double “L” at the front of the llama’s name is actually a letter of the Spanish alphabet and pronounced as “Y”. Thus we have “yama” and not “lama”.
In addition to the faithful llama, Bolivia also has a national bird species, which is the gigantic Andean Condor, the largest bird species on the planet. So other birds have a slightly larger wingspan than the 11 foot span of the condor, but the condor is a bigger, heavier bird overall.
Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in Bolivia
There is a lot to choose from when it comes to wildlife viewing in the country. Many people interested in tropical species find the combination reserve/rescue operation of the privately-owned Chuchini Ecological Reserve in the rainforest to be worth their time.
The massive 1.7 million acre Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve is located in the far southwest corner of the country. Filled with erupting volcanoes, vast geothermal attractions and enormous numbers of elegant pink flamingoes, it is one of the country’s most visited wildlife attractions.
For something specific, one might look to the San Miguelito Jaguar Reserve.
The Most Dangerous Animals In Bolivia
Perhaps the most dangerous of all Bolivian wildlife is the Piranha. While people think of this voracious and carnivorous fish as being Brazilian, it is actually Amazonian and the headwaters of the Amazon are up in the high peaks of the Andes.
The infamous Anaconda is also found in the Amazonian basin, along with a small species of crocodile known as the Caiman. Also resident in the lowland rainforest areas of the country is the mysterious Jaguar.
Up in the highlands, there are fewer real risks to humans. The big condor is not really a menace, the sole member of the bear family in South America, the Spectacled Bear is small and rather shy. As for the Maned Wolf, it is not really a wolf per se, but a related species that looks like a wolf but hunts in solitary and is much smaller.
Endangered Animals in Bolivia
Among the endangered animals of Bolivia, the most well-known is probably the Chinchilla, which has some of the softest fur in the world and is thus a target for poachers.
The Jaguar is always threatened with becoming extinct everywhere it still exists. The same goes for the Giant Brazilian Otter. Like virtually all other otters, it seems to be an endangered species throughout the world due to its riverbank habitat which puts it in close proximity to humans.
The Chacoan Guanaco is another animal at risk of becoming extinct due to destruction of its grassland habitat.
Bolivian Animals List
- Banjo Catfish
- Barn Owl
- Barn Swallow
- Black Widow Spider
- Caiman Lizard
- Camel Cricket
- Carpenter Ant
- Collared Peccary
- Crab Spider
- Dung Beetle
- Electric Eel
- Emperor Tamarin
- Flying Squirrel
- Glow Worm
- Guinea Pig
- Harpy Eagle
- Hercules Beetle
- Honey Bee
- Horned Frog
- Huntsman Spider
- Maned Wolf
- Mexican Free-Tailed Bat
- Mountain Lion
- No See Ums
- Peregrine Falcon
- Poison Dart Frog
- River Turtle
- Roseate Spoonbill
- Saber-Toothed Tiger
- Silver Dollar
- Skink Lizard
- Snapping Turtle
- Spectacled Bear
- Spider Wasp
- Stick Insect
- Tree Frog
- Vampire Bat
- Wolf Spider
- Woolly Monkey
- X-Ray Tetra
Animals in Bolivia FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Are there black panthers in Bolivia?
This is an interesting question. Zoologically speaking, there is no such thing as a black panther. There are, however, cat species which sometime produce all-black offspring. These include the Leopard and the Jaguar, both of which are known to produce the occasional black member of a litter. So, yes, there are “black panthers” found occasionally in Bolivia but they are actually jaguars.
Are there Pumas in Bolivia?
Bolivia is home to Pumas. Like all apex predators, they are only present in small numbers. A number of rescue organizations in Bolivia specialize in puma rescue for big cats that were taken as kittens and kept as pets until they became too large and dangerous to keep safely.
What plants and animals live in Bolivia?
Due to its biodiversity and terrain differentiation, that is a large question for a medium-sized country. In addition, South America is home to many unique creatures not found elsewhere in the world. Thus the fearsome piranha is found in the Amazon reaches of Bolivia. So too is the unique Amazon, or Pink, river dolphin.
The jungle and rainforest areas of the country abound with big cats and primates. The usual selection of tropical birds inhabit the lowland jungles while migratory species such as the Andean Flamingo are found in the lake regions of the highlands.
Large rodents are characteristic of South America. The endangered Chinchilla is one, as is the huge Capybara, the world’s largest rodent and capable of growing to as much as 140 lbs in weight. The rabbit-like Viscacha is a well-known denizen of Bolivia’s highlands.
The mighty Andean Condor prowls the skies while the ubiquitous cousins Alpaca, Llama, and Vicuna are found throughout Bolivia.
As for plant life, the most unique and well-known entry in the plant kingdom is the coca plant, of which Bolivia is considered to be the third-largest producer of this leaf used to manufacture cocaine with. Beyond that, Bolivia is home to a wide but not especially remarkable assortment of plant species, most of which can be found elsewhere in the world in one variant or another.
Do alligators live in Bolivia?
Differentiation is scientifically made between alligators and crocodiles. There is one species of small alligator, the Caiman, present in Bolivia. This would qualify as a member of the Alligatoridae family, but all alligators are members of the order Crocodylia. They can thus very broadly be considered to be crocodiles as well, but this appellation is not commonly applied to any of the alligators, including the caiman.