Search By:


Administrative Units


Ecological Units

Biodiversity Hotspots

Bio-geographic Zones


Coastal & Marine Eco-systems


Conservation Units

World Natural Heritage Sites

Biosphere Reserves

Tiger Conservation Units

Project Tiger

Project Elephant

Important Bird Areas

Ramsar Sites

The Caribbean Islands Hotspot

The Caribbean Island hotspot covering three island groups between North and South America, extends over 229,549 sq km of land area and nearly 4 million sq km of ocean, and is notable for its diminutive sized fauna. Vegetation in the semi-arid region consists of dry evergreen bush land and thicket, with savanna, cactus scrub and spiny scrub shrub. In the wetter regions vegetation includes marsh forest, seasonal forest, montane forest, elfin woodlands, freshwater swamps and mangroves.

The islands have over 13,000 species of plants, half of which are endemic. There are 89 mammal, 604 bird, 502 reptile, 170 amphibian and 161 freshwater fish species present in the region. Mammals include the rare giant shrews the Cuban solenodon (Solenodon cubanus) and the Hispaniolan solenodon (S. paradoxus), and the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus). Birds endemic to the region and on the brink of extinction include species like the Puerto Rican nightjar (Caprimulgus noctitherus), Zapata rail (Cyanolimnas cerverai), Zapata wren (Ferminia cerverai) and Grenada dove (Leptotila wellsi). The islands are famous for parrots like the St. Vincent parrot (Amazona guildingii), the St. Lucia parrot (Amazona versicolor), and the imperial parrot (Amazona imperialis), all symbols of conservation. The smallest bird in the world the bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) is also found here.

Reptile diversity is high of which 93.4% are endemic. These include large boas (Epicrates spp.), patterned snakes that change colours (Tropidophis), the Aruba island rattlesnake (Crotalus unicolor), Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer) and the Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collie). The worlds smallest snake, Leptotyphlops bilineata and the smallest lizards Sphaerodactylus ariasae and S. parthenopion, are also found here. Amphibian endemicity is 100% and some of the interesting but highly threatened species are the Jamaican snoring frog (Osteopilus crucialis), one of the world's largest tree frogs, the males of which make loud snoring calls and the 'mountain chicken' (Leptodactylus fallax), hunted extensively for their meat.

Clearing of forests for sugarcane plantations and agriculture, introduction of invasive species, mining, tourism and hunting are important reasons for the loss of habitat and threatened status of many species. About 29,605 sq km or 13% of the land is under some form of official protection. Local conservation organisations like Grupo Jaragu, the Foundation for the Protection of Marine Diversity the Bahamas National Trust and the National Parks Foundation are working hard to restore the biodiversity of this lovely hotspot.

[The information has been sourced from the Conservation International website on biodiversity hotspots ( Accessed in February 2008.]

ATREE, Tel: 91-80-23530069, 91-80-23533942