A fragile habitat
Climate change, habitat destruction and persecution make the Andes an increasingly hazardous place for much of its wildlife
Scientists predict that climate change will cause highaltitude areas like the Andes to warm faster than many other habitats. Currently, there are many glaciers and snowfields in the Andes, which act as huge water stores. Over the summer period, melting glacial waters help replenish rivers and groundwater, which enables vegetation to grow and animals to survive. However, many areas of the Andes now have significantly shrinking glaciers. This has had a noticeable impact on the local wildlife, such as an increase in the deaths of grazing animals like alpacas. Nearly a fifth of freshwater species in the region are also now threatened with extinction, partly due to this issue.
Although less well known than the rugged mountain scenery, the Andes also has a lot of lush tropical rainforest. However, logging, roads, oil exploration and tourism developments have all led to a huge reduction in tree cover. It is estimated that three-quarters of the rainforest cover of the Andes has now been destroyed.
Many of the rarer animals found in the Andes are also threatened due to direct human persecution. The pet and zoo trades, poaching, bushmeat and traditional medicine are all potential hazards for many of the animals living here.
Chilean flamingos spend their summers at salt lagoons and soda lakes but migrate to lower wetlands in winter. Their migration routes often involve flying through the Andes