Vanuatu Animals and Plants

By | June 26, 2021

A tree with many roots and a large roof

Vanuatu’s landscapes are very diverse and there is so much to discover: Rainforest and beaches with coconut palms shape the landscape of the islands. But unfortunately the timber industry has reduced the rainforest.

Then there are the regular cyclones that cause damage over and over again. Also plantations and even the deforestation have contributed to a partial destruction. But in the meantime some people have recognized the problem and are trying to plant new forests on the areas of the former rainforest.

On Vanuatu, you will notice the large banyan trees, which are anchored by strong roots in the ground and which you can recognize by the sweeping treetops. They are also known under the name Ficus benghalensis. This plant originally comes from India.

Diverse species grow on Vanuatu

Where there are still forests on Vanuatu, the biodiversity is also diverse, 1500 have been counted and 160 different types of orchids are included. By the way, you can only find a quarter of them on Vanuatu, which means that this species is endemic. On the coast you will find casuarinas, the leaves of which are reminiscent of horsetail. You can see what they look like in the photo opposite.

A plant as a fish poison?

Barringtonia and Lindeneibisch also grow on Vanuatu. From the Barringtonia asiatica, as the plant is also called, the fishermen produce a poison for fishing. Parts of the plants are used in the manufacture of medicines. It can be found on the coast, but it also grows inland. Mangroves, on the other hand, only grow on the coast.

Why can dogs fly?

Most of the animal species that live on Vanuatu were introduced by humans. Among the land mammals, only a few bat and flying fox species have made it to the island. Although they are mammals, they have the advantage of being able to fly. Only one species of bat is endemic, which means it is only found in Vanuatu and nowhere else.

The fruit bats are also called “flying foxes” on Vanuatu. Flying foxes are actually mammals. They grow to be six to 40 centimeters tall and their head resembles that of a dog. Some have a tail, some species do not. Their eyes are striking, which you can see well in the flying fox in the photo. Their diet consists largely of fruits.

What is a dugong?

The manatees in Vanuatu’s waters are something special. The species that lives there is called the dugong. It’s a funny name. Dugongs are also known as fork-tailed cows. You can see why they are so called from the photo.

These marine mammals can weigh up to 900 kilograms and up to four meters long. Their diet consists mainly of seaweed. They don’t see well, but they hear all the better, even though you can’t see their ears. Males and females can be distinguished by their tusks, which are only owned by the males.

Many animals were introduced

A large number of Vanuatu’s animals were brought in by humans. These include dogs, rats and, above all, pigs. Today they are almost considered to be native species. A pig is a valuable possession on Vanuatu and also a common medium of exchange.

What is a palm thief?

A special animal that has become extinct almost everywhere else is the so-called palm thief. This is a very large species of crab. It is the largest crustacean that lives on land, and this “thief” actually climbs up on palm trees and “harvests” coconuts there, which he can even open.

It is disputed whether he does this on purpose. He probably likes to climb the palm trees and if the coconuts fall, why shouldn’t he eat them? So he’s actually an unwilling thief and doesn’t do it “on purpose”.

Reptiles and poisonous animals?

On the Vanuatus Islands, the reptile encyclopedia are harmless. You will find geckos most often. Crocodiles live on some islands, but they are very rarely seen. Nobody has to beware of poisonous snakes either, because there are none. The Pacific Boa also lives on Vanuatu, but is not a poisonous snake species.

A bird that doesn’t want to hatch eggs

Over 120 species of birds have been discovered on Vanuatu. Twelve of them live only on Vanuatu. A special species is the Malau, a bird that doesn’t like to hatch its eggs. Sitting around on eggs doesn’t seem to interest him, so he puts them in places where it’s nice and warm for the offspring. That can be near hot springs, but also near volcanoes. But this bird species is threatened with extinction.

60 species of butterflies and 120 species of insects can also be found on Vanuatu, a country in Oceania defined by best-medical-schools.

Poisonous aquatic animals

However, there are certainly dangerous animals in the waters of Vanuatu. But if you don’t dive, you won’t encounter them. This includes, for example, the stonefish, which also likes to hide in the sand and whose spines on the back contain a very strong poison. The cone snails, which bury themselves in the mud or live on sandbanks and with which one can come into contact earlier, are also dangerous. However, you can find these all over the Indian and Pacific Ocean. Not all species are poisonous, but it is better not to touch them for safety.

Vanuatu Animals