Image via Flickr user Eduardo Duarte.
This South American region spans 6.7 million square kilometers and supports nearly 10 percent of the planet’s plant and animal species—many of which are considered endangered. A massive river flows through the vast tropical forest of the Amazon and boasts the largest number of freshwater fish species in the world.
From temperature regulation and air filtration to nutrition and economic stability, the Amazon possesses incredible life sustaining properties. But in the past 50 years nearly 17 percent of the Amazon’s forest cover has been lost, threatening the welfare of the region along with the mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians that call the Amazon home.
Here are just a few of the species that depend on the future health of the Amazon:
Emerald Tree Boa
This brightly colored reptile drapes itself over tree branches around the Amazon River Basin. It eats small mammals, birds and the occasional small lizard or bat.
This fish is an insect eater. It tends to linger near the surface where it can quickly leap from the water once it spots a meal.
Poison Dart Frog
A poison dart frog’s brilliant colors are a good indication of its toxicity. One species, the golden poison dart frog, harbors enough venom to poison ten full-grown men.
Linne’s Two-toed Sloth
That’s right, everyone’s favorite slow-moving mammal is at home in the Amazon. These creatures of comfort spend most of the day lounging upside-down in the tree canopy.
Leaf Cutter Ant
Don’t let its size fool you. The leaf cutter ant vibrates its jaws a thousand times per second, chopping up leaves with ease.