Wildlife

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The plains zebra or Burchell's zebra is one of Africa’s iconic species and the population size is generally accepted to be around a half a million animals. The plains zebra is found from Kenya southward to Botswana and west from there to Northern Namibia. The plains zebra in the south are somewhat different in that each black striped appears to be shadowed in the white.

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Howler monkeys are abundant in the Amazon rainforests and as the name indicates, they are quite a vocal group of primates. There are a number of howler monkey species living in South America, from the mantled howler and the black howler to the red-handed and Colombian red howler. The black howler is one of the largest species of the New World monkeys, standing at just over three feet tall with a tail about the same length.

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Along the Peruvian Amazon River near Iquitos, the fluctuation of water levels is one of the Neotropics’ most amazing natural history events. The ebbing and flooding of water dictates the way of life for so many species including plants, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and the local people — the ribereños. During high water times and low water extremes, the difference in water levels may change over 45 feet in one year in the Iquitos area.

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Hatchet-faced treefrogs are extremely attractive greenish colored frogs with very short, sharply angular noses which give them their name — hatchet-faced. There are three species of this frog found in the Peruvian Amazon, and the greater hatchet-face and pygmy hatchet-face tend to be relatively abundant.

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Many of us living in the United States — especially in the central states of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas — are very familiar with a long-tailed bird called a scissor-tailed flycatcher. They are often observed on fences, light posts and other exposed places where they scan the air for flying insects, upon which they feed. In the Southern Hemisphere, there is a counterpart of the scissor-tailed flycatcher called a fork-tailed flycatcher. Amazingly, this species has even longer tail feathers — so long that it is a wonder that these birds can even fly!

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Anyone visiting the neotropics is most likely very aware of the large, paper-like nests that are often found in trees at various levels from near ground level to the mid-story or even the higher canopy at times. These large structures are the nests of a variety of type of termites. (Not a variety in one nest but each species makes nest in similar shapes)

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For an nature travel enthusiast thinking of going on a Bali cruise, a stop at Rinca and Komodo Islands to spot the famed dragons is a must! Komodo dragons are the largest living lizards in the world, and only found on a few islands in Indonesia. Aside from zoos, there's nowhere else in the world where you can see these massive reptiles.

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Chinchillas are popular household pets, but these South American rodents are critically endangered. There are two types of chinchillas in the wild— long-tailed and short-tailed. The former species is found exclusively in the northern mountain range of Chile, while short-tailed chinchillas exist throughout the Andes in Bolivia, Argentina and Peru as well as Chile.

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On your next Costa Rica ecotour with International Expeditions keep an eye out for the shining honeycreeper. This diminutive tanager is found throughout Central America and in parts of Colombia, and is easily recognizable due to its prominent royal blue coloration.

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Pygmy marmosets, which have long held the title of the smallest monkeys in the world, make their homes in the rainforests of the Upper Amazon Basin. Be sure to keep a keen watch for these tiny primates on your small-group cruises (see this post about Amazon wildlife sightings).

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