Animals
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ABUNDANT NATIVE WILDLIFE

The statistics leave no doubts regarding the great diversity of the wildlife in these mountains. While it accounts for just 0.41% of Spain's total area, the percentages of vertebrate animals native to Spain that live in the park are remarkable and underline the area's status as a enclave with an extraordinary concentration of wildlife:
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No. of species in Spain No. of species in the natural park Percentage of Spanish total
Mammals 118 47 40%
Birds 368 185 49%
Reptiles 56 21 36%
Amphibians 25 12 48%
Fish 68 11 16%

The park as a percentage of Spain's total land area: 0,41%

Figures prepared by the park.
Sources: La Guía de Flora y Fauna (A Guide to Flora and Fauna), Rufino Nieto Ojeda and José Miguel Nieto Ojeda. Frondosa Naturaleza (Lush Nature), Joaquín Araújo.

Some of the park's animals are highly symbolic of the ecological importance of these mountains, such as the aforementioned bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus);

altthe Spanish algyroides (Algyroides marchi), a member of the lizard family that is not found anywhere else in the world and lives near to the park's high mountain streams;

the Spanish moon moth (Graellsia isabelae ssp. ceballosi), a large moth considered to be one of the most striking in Europe and which is only found in certain mountainous parts of Spain and France;

the Betic midwife toad (Alytes dickhilleni), endemic to certain mountain ranges in southeast Spain;

and Cabrera's vole (Microtus cabrerae), which has been declared a critically endangered species in Andalusia and only inhabits mountainous areas that remain damp all the year round.




LARGE MAMMALS

The Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park owes a large part of popularity to the fact that it is one of the easiest places to observe large wild mammals in their native environment.

Visitors can frequently spot mountain goats (Capra pyrenaica ssp. hispanica) in craggy areas and mouflon (Ovis musimon) on barren, rocky slopes. Herds of fallow (Dama dama) and red deer (Cervus elaphus) are very abundant in the pine forests and at the start of autumn the rutting and bellowing of the large stags is an unforgettable experience.

The wild boar (Sus scrofa) is another common species in the park, even becoming a familiar sight around tourist accommodation when food is left within its reach.


SMALL MAMMALS

The red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris ssp. segurae) is the easiest mammal to spot in the park as it jumps with great agility from branch to branch through the pine trees, and leaves the unmistakable trace of gnawed pine cones on the ground and in the middle of pathways. The red squirrels you will see in the park are a native subspecies known as the Segura squirrel.

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The great number of predators, which never find themselves short of prey, is a sign of the vitality of the park's ecosystems. There are eight species of carnivorous mammals, including the badger (Meles meles), marten (Martes foina), genet (Genetta genetta) and the little-seen wildcat (Felis sylvestris). Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are very abundant, while the clear rivers that flow through the park are home to one of the jewels in its crown: the otter (Lutra lutra).

You may also spot amiable hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) and sleepy garden dormice (Eliomys quercinus), in addition to a wide variety of bats; some of these are at risk of extinction, such as the long-fingered bat (Myotis capaccinii).






BIRDS OF PREY

The great number of birds of prey that soar above these mountains is further evidence of the sound environmental health of the park, and no fewer than 23 of the 24 diurnal species native to the Iberian Peninsula can be observed here. Of these 23 species, 15 reproduce within the park.

We are rightly proud of the park's populations of golden eagles (Aquila chrisaetos) and peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus), the fastest animal on the planet: the park is home to more than 20 breeding pairs of both species. Less common is the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), which has been declared at risk of extinction in Andalusia. With more than 500 breeding pairs in the park, the griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) is far easier to spot, while nothing is more exciting than catching a glimpse of the imposing silhouette of the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), which are being reintroduced into the park.

Each spring, short-toed snake eagles (Circaetus gallicus) and booted eagles (Hieraaetus pennatus) migrate over from Africa with clockwork precision to nest in the park's forests, where they compete for food with resident species such as the northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus).

Night-time also brings its fair share of winged predators: six of the seven species of nocturnal birds of prey native to the Iberian Peninsula inhabit the park, including the majestic eagle-owl (Bubo bubo), whose deep hoots can still be heard echoing through the undergrowth. A much more common sound in the forests is the call of the tawny owl (Strix aluco), while the scops owl (Otus scops) can be heard in almost all the towns and villages of the park.

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A WINGED WORLD

Many other species of birds live in the park. Its vast forests are home to two species of woodpecker: the great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) and the green woodpecker (Picus viridis), which is known to locals as the caballete, or "little horse", owing to its unusual call resembling the neighing of a horse. One bird that has become particularly well-adapted to life in the park is the common crossbill (Loxia curvirostra), whose asymmetrical beak can open pine cones with ease. Examples of the small birds that can be found in the forests include the short-toed treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla), Eurasian nuthatch (Sitta europaea), common firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus), long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus), great tit (Parus major), coal tit (Parus ater) and the extremely abundant blue tit (Parus caeruleus) and crested tit (Parus cristatus).

The presence of the Eurasian dipper (Cinclus cinclus) demonstrates just how clean the park's rivers are, while the common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) is a frequent sight as it dives beak-first into the water in search of small fish. Thickets and riverbanks are ideal places for spotting golden orioles (Oriolus oriolus) with their elegant, contrasting black and yellow plumage, and you may also hear the unmistakable call of the nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos).

The rockier areas of the park are also home to birds that have adapted to live in such environments, such as the crag martin (Ptyonoprogene rupestris) and mottled swift (Tachymarptis melba, previously classified as Apus melba), both insectivorous summer migrants, along with the garrulous red-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), alpine accentor (Prunella collaris) and red-rumped swallow (Hirundo daurica).

altAMPHIBIANS

In even the smallest pools and ponds you can observe many of the amphibians that have made their homes in the park and whose presence here is proof of the health of the surrounding ecosystem. Almost half of all Spain's amphibian species can be found throughout the park, and are only absent in the highest reaches.

A common sight is the fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra), with its unmistakable black and yellow patterning; Locals call it the tiro or the lagarta de las nubes ("lizard of the clouds"), because it is more frequently seen on damp or rainy days.

The park also has small populations of the rare marbled newt (Triturus marmoratus), which is extremely uncommon in eastern Andalusia. The Betic midwife toad (Alytes dickhilleni) is one of the park's most precious endemic species, as its worldwide distribution is limited to just a few mountain ranges in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula and it is considered one of the ten most threatened amphibians in Europe.


REPTILES

The Spanish algyroides (Algyroides marchi) is one of the park's most symbolic animals, as it is only found in these mountains. It was discovered here in 1958 by the biologist José Antonio Valverde (from which the lizard's Spanish name, lagartija de Valverde, or "Valverde's lizard", is derived), who was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Doñana National Park and who made the international scientific community aware of the existence of the bearded vulture in these mountains in the mid-20th century. The Spanish algyroides is dark green in colour and lives in only a few areas, always shady, grassy and near water.

The park is home to 21 species of reptiles, of which the most interesting are Bedriaga's skink (Chalcides bedriagai) and the three-toed skink (Chalcides chalcides): these are notable for the extraordinarily small dimensions of their feet, which are so small that they slither across the ground like snakes. The Iberian wall lizard (Podarcis hispanica) and large psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus) are extremely abundant and it is also easy to spot the boldly patterned ocellated lizard (Lacerta lepida), which likes to sit on rocks and absorb the sunshine. In more watery environments, the viperine water snake (Natrix Maura) is a common sight and often plays dead when it feels it is being watched, while the gentle Caspian turtle (Mauremys caspica) can also be spotted.


FISH

The cold, transparent, fast-moving waters of the high reaches of the park provide an ideal habitat for another of the park's most celebrated residents: the brown trout (Salmo trutta), which was declared at risk of extinction in Andalusia and which can only be caught in certain designated areas by catch-and-release fishermen who have a valid fishing licence and the corresponding permit.

The Andalusian barbel (Barbus sclateri) and nase (Chondostroma willkommii) prefer the middle to lower reaches of the park's rivers and can also be found in the Tronco and Anchuricas reservoirs. Certain species of chub, Squalius pyrenaicus, along with dace (Leuciscus alburnoides) and loach (Cobitis paludica) are also present in our rivers, as are a number of introduced foreign species such as the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and black bass (Micropterus salmoides).


BUTTERFLIES, SNAILS AND CRUSTACEANS

altInvertebrates - above all, insects - do not enjoy the same levels of popularity as other, more emotive animals in the park. However, their role in the food chain and in basic processes such as pollination and the recycling of organic matter means they are a vital part of the environmental architecture.

As with other groups of animals, the park boasts a number of species and subspecies that are exclusive to this region: at least 50 different endemic invertebrates have been catalogued. The park has a rich diversity of butterflies and no less than 44% of the diurnal species found in the Iberian Peninsula make their homes here; over 400 different diurnal and nocturnal species have been catalogued and at least ten of these are endemic to the park. At least a third of the peninsula's ant species and a quarter of the wasp, bee and bumblebee species are also found here.

The park's pine forests are home to the beautiful Spanish moon moth (Graellsia isabelae ssp. ceballosi), which is an intense green colour with wings that are adorned with different-coloured ocelli. The moth found here is known as the Andalusian moon moth and is one of three known subspecies. It was discovered in these very mountains. Another fascinating insect is Zygaena ignifera, a species of forester moth with striking red and black markings that is only found in certain mountain ranges in eastern Spain and is threated with extinction.

An insect that is extremely abundant – and of great ecological importance – is the hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum), which is the only species that pollinates the celebrated Cazorla violet. This remarkable moth has a long proboscis that it is able to insert into the tubelike spurs on the violet's petals, and remains airborne thanks to the unusual widening of the end of its abdomen, which makes it easy for the moth to manoeuvre. It is also an important pollinator of various species of honeysuckle, some of which are endemic to the mountainous regions of southeast Spain.

Meanwhile, the abundance of streams, rivers and springs promotes a diverse range of snail species. Recent studies have uncovered jaw-dropping statistics: the park is home to over 40% of the snail species found in Andalusia and includes high numbers of species that are endemic to the Iberian Peninsula and to Andalusia. Moreover, some of these species are native to more northerly regions, meaning that our park is one of the very few southern refuges for these creatures. Fifty-two species and subspecies of land snail have been identified here, one of which, Oestophora prietoi, was discovered and classified in the park.

The native white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) is extremely rare, but owing to the healthy condition of the park's rivers it is home to one of the largest surviving populations in Andalusia.


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