From slithering anacondas to fluttering blue morpho butterflies, rainforests teem with life—in fact, these precious ecosystems are home to more than half the world’s species. The Rainforest Alliance works hard to protect rainforests and the biodiversity within through the sustainable management of standing forests in tropical climates, the restoration of degraded land surrounding forests, and the protection of waterways. Here are 11 amazing rainforest species we are helping to protect with our innovative approach to conservation:
With its brilliant, iridescent blue wings, the blue morpho butterfly flutters through the rainforest canopy. The many “eyespots” on its brown underside trick predators into thinking the butterfly is a large predator.
The gentle giant of the ocean, the West Indian manatee can be found in the warm waters of the southern United States, the Caribbean, and the northeastern shores of Brazil. These manatees can weigh up to 1,000 pounds and grow to 10 feet in length.
The striking okapi—the closest living relative of the giraffe—lives in the dense tropical Ituri Forest of Central Africa. A master of camouflage, its striped hindquarters and brown hide helps it “disappear” into the filtered light of the forest.
The slow-moving sloth, weighing only eight or nine pounds, lives exclusively in trees, feeding on leaves, twigs, and fruit. It moves so slowly that its fur takes on a green tinge from the algae that grows on it. It can take a month to digest a single meal.
Bearing a strong resemblance to its guinea pig cousin, the capybara is the largest rodent on Earth, weighing in at more than 100 pounds and standing two feet tall. It lives in the dense vegetation that surrounds water, and frequently leaps in water bodies to hide from predators. It can hold its breath for up to five minutes.
One of the most iconic rainforest species, the scarlet macaw is a striking, large parrot with bright red plumage and brilliant blue and yellow wing feathers. Its powerful beak can open hard nuts and seeds. Scarlet macaws are one of the few species that mate for life.
One of the most brightly colored animals on the planet, the poison dart frog uses its color to warn predators of the toxic venom the lies within its skin. Indigenous cultures often use this frog’s poison to coat the tip of blow darts used for hunting.
The black howler monkey earns its moniker with the loud howl it uses to mark territory. These vocalizations, which sound like a strong wind blowing through a tunnel, can be heard up to two miles away. These monkeys live high up in tall rainforest trees in groups of 4 to 19.
The largest of all the anteaters, the giant anteater can be found in grasslands, swamps, and humid forests from southern Belize down to northern Argentina. Its long sticky tongue can shoot out 150 times a minute, allowing it to easily eat 30,000 insects in a day.
10. Green Anaconda
The storied green anaconda is one of the largest snakes in the world, reaching over 30 feet in length, 12 inches in diameter, and weighing over 550 pounds. Due to its size, it is quite cumbersome on land, but it is stealthy in the water.
11. Praying Mantid
The praying mantid is a master of camouflage, blending in and mimicking the foliage around it. It uses its sharp eyesight and powerful forelegs to catch and devour prey.