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The Animal Kingdom of Sancti Spiritus, Cuba

escambray today, sancti spiritus, fauna, animal species, danger of extintion

Cuba’s national bird El Tocororo (Cuban Trogon) (R), and a Cabrero bird (Western Spindalis). (Photo: Courtesy of Abel Hernández)

The wild fauna of Sancti Spíritus, which comprises the wild animals of this geographical region, is surprisingly rich. But not all of these animals are safe. Species of hidden and silent life as well as other well-known groups can be found in coastal areas, caves, forests, and rivers. Respecting them, beyond any romanticism, constitutes an ecological, economic, scientific and spiritual necessity.

With little previous research on the subject, the book Fauna salvaje de la provincia de Sancti Spíritus, Cuba (Wild fauna of the province of Sancti Spíritus, Cuba) was written by Abel Hernández Muñoz and José Blas Pérez Silva, which was published by the Editorial Académica Española.

Although incomplete yet, the text reveals conclusions unknown to many. For example, the animals of the territory present their greatest diversity and endemism in the mountains, karst areas and keys, where many of the species are in danger of extinction.

The origin of the fauna here, like that of the rest of Cuba, is attributed to immigrations — through a disappeared terrestrial bridge—, that came from Central America in two different periods of time, at the beginning of the Eocene (more than 40 million years ago) and at the end of the Miocene and early Pleistocene, much more recent times.

The animal kingdom of this region features a series of peculiarities that responds to barriers of isolation like mountains, rivers and seas, among others, and to its condition of transitional area in the middle of the eastern and western regions of the island.

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