5 Top Countries for Wildlife Spotting (Slideshow)
Forget the zoo — check out some of the most incredible countries on the planet to see animals in the wild.
Nearly 1/3 of Botswana’s land is set aside for wildlife. And boy, do they have plenty of it: zebras, hippos, elephants, wildebeest, lions, giraffes, cheetah, rhinos, hyenas, meerkats, just to name a few! Though the country is nearly twice the size of Arizona, it has a population of just 1.5 million and has relatively good environmental protections for the region — making it a popular safari destination.
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Its neighbor to the north, Brazil, may be home to the most animal species on the planet, but Argentina wins major points for the diversity of its wildlife. What other country is home to both toucans and penguins, let alone a country just 1/3 the size of the continental United States? In the subtropical forests of the North, you’ll find monkeys, big cats, hummingbirds, capybaras, tapirs, and flamingos. Farther south, in Patagonia, the Valdes Peninsula is teeming with sea lions, whales, and seals.
Some 70 million-odd years ago, this African island broke off from the Gondawana supercontinent, and the flora and fauna of Madagascar developed in isolation. Thus, nearly all of the island’s plant and animal species are found nowhere else on earth. Dozens of species of lemur, Madagascar’s most iconic animal, roam these forests. You’ll find abundant marine life living in the coral reefs around the island, too.
4. The Galapagos.
Over 1,000 miles away from the nearest landmass, these volcanic islands played an integral role in helping Charles Darwin form his theory of evolution. Each island is home to its own unique ecosystem, and its famous turtles, lizards, iguanas and other unique species have no natural predators. But, what really makes the Galapagos so special is the islands’ serious commitment to environmental protection.
Borneo is home to three countries and one of the oldest rain forests on the planet. As you might expect, the island is one of the most ecologically diverse on the planet, and is home to thousands of plant and animal species that can be found nowhere else. You’ll find some big mammals — apes, elephants and rhinos, to name a few, along with flying squirrels, slow lorises and dozens more. Borneo is so rich in wildlife, in fact, that about 3 species are discovered there every month!