Living with treasures

Sometimes life goes so fast, or so complicated, that it barely leaves us time to stop for a second to contemplate that beautiful butterfly hovering near us, or the little zunzuncito determined to look at himself in the rear-view mirror of the car parked in front of the portal.

However, we live on an island that is especially privileged in matters of flora and fauna. So much so that they count us among the seven islands in the world with the highest percentage of endemism.

Without claiming a scientific definition, endemism, used in biology, indicates that the distribution of a species is limited to a certain and reduced geographical area without being able to be found naturally in other geographies.

Living with treasures
The Dancing Orchid or Cimarrona (Tolumnia Guibertiana) It is exclusive to this Island. Photo: taken from

Therefore, we have many, many species that are unique. So many are that, in the case of flora alone, of the nearly 6,500 species that exist here, 35% are only exclusive to this archipelago.

With regard to the fauna something similar happens. Only of the more than 160 species of reptiles that we have here, 88% are endemic; and among the 70 or so species of amphibians, 94% live only here.

Living with treasures
The unique polymite. Photo: Julio A. Larramendi

Among those living beings that exclusively encourage on Cuban soil, the snails of the Polymita genus stand out in a special way, for having the most beautiful shells on the planet from their palette of bright and unique colors; the zunzuncito also takes the palms (Mellisuga helenae), for being the smallest bird in the world; and among “the most” there is room for the almiquí (Solenodon cubanus), the largest insectivore on Earth.

Living with treasures
The Nipe-Sagua-Baracoa mountain system. Photo: taken from

Although it is in the Nipe-Sagua-Baracoa mountain system where, above all, the greatest diversity of this native fauna is concentrated – it brings together more than 900 species of invertebrates and about 200 of vertebrates -, in any case, wherever you are, it deserves It is worth stopping and looking around to avoid being in the forest and not seeing the trees, missing beauties and exclusivities that perhaps are in front of our eyes.

Note: The text served as the source for these lines “Cuba among the seven islands with the highest percentage of endemism”by colleague Orfilio Peláez.

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