37 animals in danger of extinction in Spain

Sherman Hoover
37 animals in danger of extinction in Spain

The endangered animals in Spain they reach the number of at least 165 species, only considering vertebrates. Because Spain is one of the countries with the greatest biodiversity and endemism in Europe, it is important to know the status of its species.

A fundamental step to conserve biodiversity is to identify species and study populations. In this way, they are placed in a category according to their degree of threat, which makes them the object of protection measures..

Mountain goat (Capra pyrenaica). Source: Juan Lacruz / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

In Spain, the categories defined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are used, with some additions. The basic categories of threat of extinction are Vulnerable, Endangered and Critically Endangered.

Although in Spain other categories are also used such as Rare for the uncommon ones, but which do not reach Vulnerable. Of the 602 species of native vertebrate animals identified in Spain, 8 are already considered extinct in recent times and another 4 are suspected of being extinct.

While 43 species are considered Endangered (7%), 62 as vulnerable (10%) and 60 rare (9%). A particularly relevant group is mammals, which in Spain are 111 species including naturalized ones..

A naturalized species is one that has been introduced to the country and that has adapted and reproduced as if it were native. Of this number, 57 species are considered to have some degree of threat of extinction, which represents just over half (51%).

List of endangered animals in Spain

Iberian imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti)

Iberian imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti) after hunting a rodent

It is a raptor that reaches up to 83 cm in height and has a wingspan of around 2 m, being endemic to the Iberian Peninsula. However, there are only 350 mature specimens, although it is a population in recovery. It is found in the Central System and Extremadura, the Montes de Toledo, Sierra Morena, and in the marshes of the Guadalquivir river.

Lesser Shrike (Lanius minor)

Lesser Shrike (Lanius minor)

This bird is about 20 cm long and is very abundant in its worldwide distribution range, but in Spain there are only 25 breeding pairs left. It lives in the northeast of the country, where this small population is fragmented. This has determined that in Spain it has the classification of species Critically Endangered.

Canary Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus majorensis)

Canary Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus majorensis)

The bird is the subspecies of the common Egyptian vulture that inhabits the Canary Islands, occupying almost the entire archipelago before 1950. Unfortunately, from that decade on, a process of degradation began, disappearing in almost all the islands..

Currently there are just over 130 individuals, concentrated mainly on the island of Fuerteventura, as well as few pairs in Lanzarote and Alegranza. The main threats are the deterioration of the habitat, due to the industrialization and use of agrochemicals and due to its accelerated decline it is assigned the category of Critically Endangered.

Great Bustard (Otis takes)

Great Bustard (Otis tard)

It is a large bird that is found in North Africa, Europe and Asia, having the classification in its entire geographical range of Vulnerable. A population of about 23,000 individuals is estimated in Spanish territory, most of it in Extremadura and Castilla y León. In this country it also qualifies as Vulnerable due to the reduction that its population has suffered.

Basque or right whale (Eubalaena glacialis)

Basque or right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). Source: NOAA / Public domain

The species of whale is normally far from the coasts, but it approaches during the breeding season. However, in Spain it is in the process of being classified as extinct, since there have been no sightings in many years and worldwide it is classified as Endangered..

Bermejuela (Achondrostoma arcasii)

Bermejuela (Achondrostoma arcasii). Source: David Perez / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

It is a small endemic fish of the Iberian peninsula no larger than 10 cm long that inhabits rivers and mountain lakes. Given its endemic condition with relatively restricted distribution and the susceptibility of habitats to contamination, it is classified as Vulnerable.

Mountain goat (Capra pyrenaica)

Mountain goat (Capra pyrenaica)

It is an endemic goat of Spain classified as Rare, of which there are three subspecies, one of them Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica, considered Endangered. Of this subspecies only 104 individuals remain in a single point of the Pyrenees.

The other two are Capra pyrenaica wins of the Sierra de Gredos and Capra pyrenaica hispanica more widely distributed to the east. They live in rocky areas between 200 and 2,000 meters above sea level, in various types of vegetation and their main threats are diseases such as scabies and hunting..

Chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleo)

Chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleo)

This species of chameleon lives in the Mediterranean region, mostly in North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. In Europe it is located in Portugal and Spain, having been introduced in Italy.

The species has been classified as Endangered in Spain due to its scarce populations, located mainly in Andalusia. Its main threats are habitat loss, captures and predation by domestic animals..

Gray tealMarmaronetta angustirostris)

Gray teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris)

The duck species was common in the Mediterranean region, however, now in this area it is only found in Spain, Sicily and North Africa. It is also found in specific areas of Turkey, Central Asia to China and India, being classified worldwide as Vulnerable.

It lives in shallow waters in wetlands and marshes, counting in Spain with few reproductive pairs and therefore it is classified as Endangered.

Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus)

Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus)

This species is an exceptional case, since it is considered as an animal of the fauna of Spain because of a single specimen that inhabits the Chafarinas Islands. These islands are located 4 km off the eastern coast of Morocco.

Specimens have occasionally been seen in the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. Given this situation, the species is listed as Endangered for Spain, as well as worldwide.

Moorish coot (Fulica cristata)

Moorish Coot (Fulica cristata)

It is a bird related to cranes that reaches about 45 cm in length and lives only in some regions of Africa and southern Spain. In this country it is defined as a Critically Endangered species, because it has a population of only 250 specimens.

On the other hand, the areas where it breeds have been reduced and are currently almost restricted to Andalusia.

Wildcat (Felis silvestris)

Wildcat (Felis silvestris)

The problem with this feline is that there is not enough information in Spain regarding its population situation. It appears to inhabit almost the entire peninsula, being rare in some areas and locally abundant in others..

Its main threat is mating with domestic cats, forming hybrids and degrading the species, in addition to the deterioration of habitats. For now in Spain it is considered under the category of Insufficiently known and requires more studies to define its actual conservation status..

Gineta from Ibiza (Genetta genetta isabelae)

Ibiza Gineta (Genetta genetta isabelae)

This subspecies is endemic to the island of Ibiza (Balearic Islands, Spain) and evolved from specimens introduced by the Arabs 700 years ago. It inhabits pine groves, Mediterranean scrub and even cultivation areas where it is somewhat abundant, although due to its reduced distribution it is classified as Rare..

Jarabugo (Anaecypris hispanica)

Jarabugo (Anaecypris hispanica). Source: Tiu Cancho / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

It is a small fish endemic to the Iberian Peninsula and is located in tributaries of the Guadiana and Guadalquivir rivers. Their populations are small and their environment very susceptible to alterations due to pollution and other habitat alterations. Given the threats and its restricted distribution, it is considered an Endangered species.

Marine lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)

Marine lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)

It is a fish with an elongated and round body typical of the coasts of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea where it lives between the sea and the rivers. It reproduces and grows in rivers, to later migrate to the sea where it lives for about 22 months.

In Spain it is classified as Vulnerable, although locally it may be Endangered, as is the case in Andalusia. Threats come from overfishing, water pollution and the construction of reservoirs.

Broom hare (Lepus castroviejoi)

Broom hare (Lepus castroviejoi)

It is an endemic species of Spain, classified as Rare, that inhabits the elevated parts of the Cantabrian mountain range. It lives in montane shrubs between 1,000 and 1,900 meters above sea level, as well as in clearings of mixed deciduous forests. Among the threats is illegal hunting and the loss of pasture areas due to extensive sheep and goat farming..

Iberian lynx (Lynx pardina)

Iberian lynx (Lynx pardina). Source: (c) Ex-situ Conservation Program of the Iberian Lynx www.lynxexsitu.es / CC BY 3.0 ES (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/es/deed.en)

This is the largest wild cat in Spain, found in the southwest of the country occupying an area close to 11,000 kmtwo. It is especially abundant in the Doñana National Park and its surroundings.

The species is endemic to the Iberian Peninsula, inhabiting Mediterranean scrublands and mountains, as well as forests. Given that there are only about 1,200 individuals in Spain with a downward trend, it is classified as Endangered.

Dormouse of Formentera (Eliomys quercinus ophiusae)

Dormouse of Formentera (Eliomys quercinus ophiusae)

It is a subspecies that only inhabits bushes, hedges and orchards on the island of Formentera (Balearic Islands, Spain). It is considered a Rare species, due to its restricted distribution and the fact that its populations are slowly declining..

The main threat is the competition of the common rat for food, as well as illegal eradication due to the locals classifying it as a pest of the vineyards.

Wolf (Canis lupus)

Wolf (Canis lupus)

In Spain the wolf extends for about 100,000 kmtwo in the forests of the northwest of the country, reaching about 2,000 specimens. The greatest threats occur in the southern half of the country due to illegal hunting, however in the north they do not seem to have major threats. Therefore it is classified as a vulnerable species, being the same qualification that it has worldwide.

White-headed Malvasia (Oxyura leucocephala)

Male White-headed Malvasia (Oxyura leucocephala). Source: Ferran Pestaña from Barcelona, ​​Spain / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

It is a small reddish brown diving duck with a long and upright tail, a white head with a black band above. It inhabits from Spain and North Africa, passing through the Eastern Mediterranean to Central Asia.

In Spain about 2,400 specimens winter in fragmented areas, while for the eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia about 15,000 individuals are estimated. Given the dispersion of the populations and their relative low number, it is considered Endangered.

Common porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

Common porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

This marine mammal from the group of cetaceans is rare on the Spanish Atlantic coast, where it is classified as Vulnerable. On the other hand, it is considered an Extinct species in the Mediterranean where it lived in the past. While the main threat in the Cantabrian Sea is being trapped in fixed large mesh nets.

Large horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum)

Large horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum)

Although it is a species widely distributed throughout Europe and even in Spain and the Balearic Islands, it is considered Endangered in Europe, due to the decline of its populations due to human disturbances, especially due to the use of pesticides.

The classification coincides with the category assigned locally in the Balearic Islands (Spain), although at a general level it is considered only Vulnerable in this country.

Bigeye bat (Myotis capaccinii)

Bigeye bat (Myotis capaccinii)

This flying mammal is distributed in scattered populations around the Mediterranean basin, reaching as far as Iran and Uzbekistan. In Spain its distribution is restricted to a narrow Mediterranean strip to the southeast and south of the peninsula, and on the islands of Mallorca and Menorca.

It inhabits caves, mines and abandoned underground channels and is considered Vulnerable worldwide. In Spain it is classified as Endangered, where a population of 10,000 specimens with a decreasing trend is estimated.

Forest buzzard (Myotis bechsteini)

Forest buzzard (Myotis bechsteini). Source: Dietmar Nill / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)

It is distributed from the Iberian Peninsula to Iran and inhabits tree cavities, rarely in underground shelters. It is an insectivorous animal that lives in mature forests, being affected by the deterioration of the habitat, especially the felling of old trees.

It is also affected by the indiscriminate use of chemicals for forest treatments. For these reasons, although worldwide it is considered Vulnerable, in Spain it is classified as Endangered.

Palearctic otter (Lutra lutra)

Palearctic otter (Lutra lutra). Source: Bernard Landgraf / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

This otter with dense fur, dark brown on the back and light on the sides and belly, reaches up to 1.2 m in length. It lives mainly in rivers, lakes and reservoirs, although it occasionally lives on coasts, for example in Malaga and Cádiz.

It is distributed throughout the Eurasian continent and in North Africa and due to its scattered and scarce populations it is considered Vulnerable in Spain, as well as worldwide.

Grizzly (Ursus arctos)

Brown bear (Ursus arctos)

In Spain there are only two populations, one in the Cantabrian mountain range and the other very small in the Pyrenees. This animal inhabits the deciduous forests of these mountain ranges, where it is estimated that it does not exceed 70 specimens.

Therefore, the species is classified as Endangered, as well as at the level of the European Community. Although globally it is classified as not threatened due to the existence of larger stable populations, especially in Asia.

Cinderella Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea diomedea)

Cinderella shearwater (Calonectris diomedea diomedea)

The population of this subspecies of seabird reaches about 150,000 individuals in the Mediterranean Sea, where it is endemic. However, in the Spanish territory only 10,000 reproductive specimens are estimated.

They are mainly distributed in the Chafarinas islands, in the Balearic Islands and in coastal islands where the populations are smaller. Its greatest threats are accidental fishing deaths, as well as natural predation and habitat loss..

Bulwer's Petrel (Bulweria bulwerii)

Bulwer's Petrel (Bulweria bulwerii)

This seabird lives in the Pacific and Atlantic in temperate and subtropical waters, also nesting in tropical regions. In Spain it has the Canary Islands as a breeding place, inhabiting scattered throughout the archipelago.

It is estimated that in the Canary Islands there is a population of about 1,000 specimens. Threats to the species include predation by rats and cats, light and chemical pollution, as well as human disturbance..

Gran Canaria blue finch (Fringilla teydea polatzeki)

Gran Canaria blue finch (Fringilla teydea polatzeki). Source: Bartkauz at German Wikipedia / Public domain

It is an endemic bird on the island of Gran Canaria, restricted only to two wooded areas of pine forest. In these two areas there are about 250 specimens that represent 95% of its entire population..

In such a way that this subspecies of blue finch is classified as Critically Endangered. This bird reached this critical level due to its capture and the reduction of its habitat..

Bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus)

Bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus)

It is a large vulture, reaching up to 3 m wingspan and 7 kg in weight, which inhabits central Asia and to a lesser extent eastern Africa and southern Europe. It has a habit of lifting bones and shells and dropping them to break them and eat their insides, hence its name. It is a threatened species in many of its distribution areas, especially in Europe, having already become extinct in various regions.

Worldwide it is considered as not threatened, but in Spain it reaches the category of Endangered, because there are only 80 breeding pairs left in the Pyrenees, from which the species was reintroduced in the Picos de Europa.

Long-legged frog (Iberian frog)

Long-legged frog (Rana iberica)

It is a small reddish-brown frog, endemic to the Iberian Peninsula, which lives in streams and mountain ponds. In Spain it is located in the center and north of the country, being threatened by habitat deterioration and predation by introduced animals such as the American mink (Neovison mink). In some studies it is classified as Near Threatened and in others it is classified as Vulnerable.

Sollo or sturgeon (Acipenser sturio)

Sollo or sturgeon (Acipenser sturio)

This scaleless fish, covered in plates and with a sensory beard, inhabits the Northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. It reproduces in rivers to later migrate to the sea and is considered Critically Endangered both worldwide and in Spain. Its main threats are water pollution, the establishment of reservoirs and the extraction of sand in spawning areas..

Cabrera vole (Microtus cabrerae)

Cabrera vole (Microtus cabrerae)

It is a small endemic mole of the Iberian Peninsula, classified as a Rare species, given the fluctuation of its populations. Furthermore, these populations are very isolated from each other and threatened by the loss of their habitats, especially by fires. They inhabit grasslands and reed beds linked to seasonal water outcrops.

Stupid turtle (Caretta caretta)

Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta). Source: ukanda / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

This species is a marine turtle considered Endangered worldwide and also in Spain, inhabiting the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. The main threats at various sites are hunting, the consumption of their eggs and trawl nets..

While in Spain the main threats are the consumption of toxic waste and the longline fishing system (based on a long line full of hooks).

Black tortoise (Testudo graeca)

Black tortoise (Testudo graeca)

It is a tortoise with a yellow and black domed shell whose maximum size is 20 cm. It inhabits the Mediterranean basin in two areas, one to the west and the other to the east in the Balkans, Turkey and the Middle East..

In the Mediterranean basin it is restricted to North Africa, Italy and southern Spain. It is considered Vulnerable worldwide and in Spain it is classified as Endangered, although in the Doñana National Park there is a stable population of about 5,000 individuals.

Pyrenean grouse (Tetraus urogallus aquitanicus)

Pyrenean grouse (Tetrao urogallus aquitanicus). Source: Arturo de Frias Marques / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

It is a subspecies of this galliform bird that spans boreal Europe and temperate mountainous enclaves to the south. In Spain it lives in the Pyrenees with a population of just 1,378 individuals, which has been in reduction in the last 15 years and is classified as Endangered.

European minkMustela lutreola)

European mink (Mustela lutreola)

This mustelid is considered Endangered both in Spain and throughout the European Community, due to its scarce populations. Being a semi-aquatic species, its main threat is the contamination of rivers and lakes.

Yubarta or humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Yubarta or humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

It is a species of roncual or whale classified as Endangered in Spain and Vulnerable worldwide. This cetacean is not very abundant on the Iberian Atlantic coasts and in the Canary Islands, while in the Mediterranean its presence is occasional..

The whale feeds in temperate and cold waters and reproduces in tropical areas, inhabits all oceans and its main threat is hunting..

Articles of interest

Animals in danger of extinction in the world.

Animals in danger of extinction in Mexico.

Endangered animals in Peru.

Animals in danger of extinction in Chile.

Animals in danger of extinction in Venezuela.

Animals in danger of extinction in Argentina.


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