Morocco Fauna and Flora

By | December 12, 2021

Fauna. – The Moroccan fauna, despite being essentially Palearctic in its fundamental lines, except for the inevitable infiltrations of Ethiopian elements, is characterized compared to the Algerian fauna, to which it is very similar, by a greater quantity of peculiar species. This derives, as Pallary notes, from the nature of the soil where the mountain ranges of the Atlas and the Rif, and the mountain groups extending towards the Atlantic coast constitute as many more or less separate areas, which favor the localization of the species, particularly for those (excluding mammals, birds and flying insects) for which a river constitutes an insurmountable barrier, such as, for example, terrestrial molluscs, for which the Pallary has distinguished various groupings of species in relation to various areas geographic Moroccan.

The vertebrate fauna offers a mixture of African and Paleartic species. Among the African ones we note the fennec or big-eared fox, the caracal, the mongoose, the gerbil, the Atlantic hare, the North African mufflone, the otter, a form of wild boar, as well as various mammals with ubiquitous distribution, such as the mouse, the dog, horse, etc. The ornithological fauna shows clearer Atlantic and tropical characters and therefore differs from the Algerian-Tunisian one. About 200 species of birds have been found so far and among the species of tropical or Palearctic origin, but localized, we will notice the Ardea garzetta, the Tingitano crow, the Mauritanian blackbird, some species of the genera Carduelis, Emberiza, etc., while the four most characteristic are the Numida sabyi, the Pycnotus barbatus, the Francolinus bicalcaratus, the Eupodotis arabs, the latter clearly African species. Among the Moroccan reptiles we will notice the Mauritanian tortoise, the chameleon, numerous geckos, among which the gymnodactyls are representatives of a Brazilian genus, the uromastic, various gongili, skinks, colubers and vipers. The Amphibians include the green frog, the mountain toad, the discoglossus and finally some salamanders, newts and Pleurodeles.

Flora. – The flora of Morocco, like that of all North Africa, is essentially Mediterranean; two thirds of the species are Mediterranean and the endemic genera, except for two, belong to the same stock. However, the Mediterranean element is, in certain regions, mixed with extraneous elements. The “no. of Morocco, between Larache and Tetuán, has numerous Iberian species and is reunited, from a botanical point of view, with the Lusitanian dominion.

Eastern Morocco and the region of Morocco are two areas of radiation of Saharan vegetation. A third enclave, called European-Siberian, is found in the high chains of the Atlas and the Rif, where species of a more boreal character are found; finally, a fourth, called Macaronesian, is found in the SO. of Morocco, and is characterized by a certain number of Canarian plants: here dominates the Argania sideroxylon, Sapotacea which provides an iron wood and forms a real botanical exception.

We can distinguish a Saharan zone, a steppe zone; a mountain area and an alpine area, of which the lower three, which overlap in the mountains, flank each other in the plains. The High Atlas almost forms a Mediterranean peninsula in a steppe and desert region, while its high peaks represent a series of more or less isolated alpine islands.

In the forests of Morocco predominate oak four forms: the cork oak, the Quercus Mirbeckii, the Q. castanaefolia, and the holm oak; four conifers: the Aleppo pine, the cedar, the thuja (Callitris quadrivalvis) and juniper. Poplar, elm, ash live along rivers and form tufts in swampy plains. The other essences: wild pear, pistachio, carob, cherry, olive, walnut, elm, maple, do not form homogeneous plantations. The climate and the soil exert a great influence on the distribution of the various essences: the cork oak, one of the most characteristic species of the western Mediterranean, thrives only in siliceous soils and in regions that receive more than 600 mm. of annual rain Together with the wild pear tree it constitutes the great forest of Mamora which measures no less than 137,000 hectares, the largest cork forest that exists. It also forms important wooded areas throughout the hinterland between Rabat and Casablanca, in the countries of the Zaer and Zemmour, in Tafoudeit, in the region of Oulmès and Zaīane; it also grows throughout the Mediterranean coast from Cape Espartel to Moulouya. There Q. Mirbeckii, one of the most beautiful forest species of North Africa, always accompanies the cork oak, but is found only from 700 m. up to 1800-2000, at which altitude the cedar joins; It is a deciduous tree, such as Q. castanaefolia, which begins at an even higher altitude, above a thousand meters, reaching the extreme limit of forest vegetation. The holm oak occupies very large areas, alone or in conjunction with cork oak, Aleppo pine or cedar; in the High Atlas there are thinned woods or isolated individuals up to 2600 m., the upper limit of forest vegetation. Conifers together with oaks form the largest wooded areas. The Aleppo pine, very hardy, grows in regions with no more than 300 mm. of rain and lives even in the worst soils; its altitude limits are almost those of the cork oak and the olive tree, that is from 1500 to 1700 m.: it is frequent especially in the valleys of the high Tensift, of the Tessaout and of the Oued el-Abid, and in the southwest of the Middle Atlas. Cedrus atlantica) occupies a well-defined region, between 1400 and 2500 m. altitude: groups of cedars meet in the Middle Atlas; they extend, from Khenifra to Sefrou, for more than 150 km., forming a series of parallel strips which extend to the NE. in the country of Riata and Beni Ouaraïne and protrude beyond Khenifra over the High Atlas. Cedar is missing in the western High Atlas, where it is replaced by juniper, but is found in some parts of the coastal massifs. The tuja, the Juniperus oxycedrus and phoenicea, confused by the natives under the name of taga, they have almost the same geographical distribution: very resistant to wind and drought, they have for a long time held a great place in the forest formation of internal terraces and massifs, especially in the vicinity of the Sahara; but by now only a few residues are found, especially on the southern slope of the Middle Atlas.

The species that make up the scrub are the same as those of the undergrowth; the main ones are: the olive tree, the mastic tree, the strawberry tree, the heather, the myrtle, the broom, the citiso, the cysts, the helianthmum, the lavender, the rosemary, the mugwort, the euphorbia. On certain soils that do not lend themselves to forest vegetation there are bulbous plants and grasses which sometimes join dwarf palms, jujubes, the latter in dry and almost steppe regions. For Morocco 2009, please check

The steppe in western Morocco occupies the flat area located too far from the sea to be washed by the Atlantic rains in sufficient quantity; in eastern Morocco there is a vast steppe zone, between the Moulouya valley, to the west, and the Algerian border: it is the Moroccan Dahra. The vegetation of the steppes is mainly composed of leathery grasses, lively, few in number, resistant to cold and heat, in very open formations, especially alpha, esparto, mixed with artemisia and salsolaceous.

In western Morocco the characteristic tree of the region located to S. di Tensift is the Argania ; it is found mainly in Mogador and Agadir and forms, alone or mixed with thyme and juniper, sparsely dense forests that cover the western buttresses of the Atlas, the Sous and the northern side of the Anti Atlas up to Siroua: it is a steppe sprinkled with rare trees and which consequently offers a certain resemblance to the savannah. The other Saharan regions bordering Morocco are almost entirely devoid of vegetation, except in the water areas that form the oases; especially to the East. of the opening of the Siroua the desert character is accentuated.

Morocco Flora