From the earthy browns and sunset oranges of the desert, to the bright blues and greens of the Sri Lankan ocean, and the cool, pastel blues and whites of the Antarctic wilderness, the world’s natural landscape is a kaleidoscope of colour and beauty. Whether they’re tucked away in hidden corners of the world, or right in front of your very eyes, you’re never far from the vibrant and alluring destinations we call home.
And now it’s even easier for colour-conscious travellers to choose their next adventure, as a new study has just revealed the most vivid and colourful wildlife around the world.
More info: ampersandtravel.com
Unsurprisingly, Antarctica’s colour palette is incredibly cool, given that almost the entire country – and continent – is covered in ice and snow. The beautiful collection of blues, greys and whites, with just a hint of orange that’s provided by the penguins feels sleek and modern, and emits an atmosphere of peacefulness.
The palette includes colours taken from emperor penguins, giant petrels, the humpback whale, and leopard seals, as well as the sweeping white landscape. Although there is a surprising amount of wildlife in Antarctica – given the alarmingly cold and difficult conditions – this is the wildlife of Antarctica that best represents the country, thriving even in the harshest of conditions.
Among the impressive animals that dot the Antarctic landscape are the emperor penguins, the largest living penguin that can grow to approximately 115cm – nearly 4 feet tall. Synonymous with Antarctica, these penguins are slowly making their way onto the endangered animals list, largely due to the melting sea ice. Emperor penguins rely on the ice to find krill, their main food source, and it’s predicted that by the end of the 21st Century, the population sizes will have dwindled by at least two-thirds. Today, roughly 60,000 of these amazing animals still exist in the wild, and they provide a vital role in the food chain – their extinction will have a massive effect on the population of leopard seals in Antarctica as they hunt the penguins, and in turn this will affect the population of larger animals such as killer whales.
The home of Ayers Rock and the famous Australian outback, it’s no wonder that Australia’s colourscape is ripe with oranges, reds, and browns. From the country’s national animals of the kangaroo and the emu, to the iconic dingo and koala bear, the earthy tones are broken only by the bright injection of the blue sky.
Australians are big fans of their national animals, using them for everything from coinage to the mascots of national sporting teams – and it’s no wonder when a lot of them are incredibly cute. Take the koala, for instance; fluffy ears, big eyes, cuddly body, sleeps for 20 hours a day – what’s not to love? Unfortunately, koalas have recently been listed as “functionally extinct”, which means there isn’t enough of the population in the wild left to support the next generation. This is because of climate change causing temperature rises and heatwaves, as well as mass deforestation that has occurred in their habitats. Today, only 80,000 koalas are left in Australia.
Brazil is best known for the Amazon Rainforest and the Rio Carnival – so it’s no surprise that a colourscape of its wildlife and landscape perfectly showcases that colour palette. The country is incredibly vast with a number of different terrain styles, which makes it perfect for a number of different species of wildlife to thrive. Rich in biodiversity, Brazil is home to anything from the impressive jaguar, to the capuchin monkey, blue macaw, and even the pink dolphin.
Despite the variety of wildlife and the sheer size of the country, Brazil is nevertheless still susceptible to a number of factors that are affecting the native animals – such as climate change, human activity and, most importantly, deforestation. For instance, the blue macaw, officially named the Hyacinth macaw, is considered vulnerable and endangered, largely due to the cage bird trade and habitat loss. Similarly, the jaguar is an incredibly difficult animal to spot, with a rapidly decreasing population. A number of travellers every year are allowed to spend time with jaguar researchers at the Mamiraua Reserve, where there is one of the world’s densest concentrations of the cats, and there is a big focus on the conservation effort and attempts to rescue the cats from extinction.
Canada’s varied landscape includes the Rocky Mountains, Arctic tundra, the prairies, and boreal forest – so it’s no wonder it all combines with the varied wildlife to create an interesting colour palette. From sleek whites and cool blues of the icy landscape to the earthy browns and green of the forests and fields.
The most famous and notable animals from Canada include the arctic fox, the grizzly bear, a moose – Canada’s national animal – and the timber wolves. The Arctic fox isn’t technically on the endangered list yet, but its prime habitats are the snowy, wintry landscapes across the north of Canada which means it’s very susceptible to climate change. Relying on its white coat as camouflage, the rapid loss of ice and snow makes it harder to hunt – as does the rapid loss of sea and marine life.
China’s landmass is exceptionally large, so it’s no wonder that it’s home to an impressive variety of wildlife. One of the most colourful colour palettes from all the countries, China’s colourscape includes the iconic giant panda, a bamboo field, the red panda, a Chinese pheasant, and a golden snub-nosed monkey, many of which are endemic to China. With over 562 species of mammals, 346 amphibious creates, 4936 species of fish, and 403 retile species, it wasn’t easy narrowing down the colourscape – but the colours are simply breath-taking.
The golden snub-nosed monkey is one such species that can only be found in China – specially, it can only be found in the southwest and central regions of the country. Incredibly rare, the monkey has been declared endangered with an actively decreasing population, mostly due to the destruction of its already minute habitat. Similarly, the giant panda has been classified as vulnerable – although this has improved since 2015, when it was considered endangered and the population size grew by 16.8%. part of the bear family, the giant panda is instantly recognisable thanks to the unique black and white markings of its fur.
Costa Rica is home to over 500,000 different animal species, placing it in the top 20 most biodiverse countries in the world. With 32 national parks, 51 wildlife refuges, 13 forest reserves, and 8 biological reserves, there are plenty of places to visit and witness the incredible wildlife of the country in their natural habitats. Some of the most fascinating include the Costa Rican toucan, the colourful tree frog, the infamous sloth, and a spider monkey – all of which combine with the rich green landscape to create a tropical and bright colour palette.
One of the most bizarre animals you could find in Costa Rica, the three-toed sloth is known to be critically endangered as a result of mass deforestation of the tropical rainforests across the South American continent. Integral parts of the tropical rain forest ecosystem, sloths are famously slow-moving and live high up in the trees almost all of the time.
Another interesting creature to be found in Costa Rica is the red-eyed tree frog, which utilises its interesting eyed eyes to temporarily shock and paralyse its predators. Although they aren’t currently on the endangered species list, their population is slowly decreasing – again, as a result of deforestation and human activity.
The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos is a selection of islands roughly 600 miles off the southern coast of Ecuador, and home to more than 200 species unique to the islands. Once a favoured spot of pirates, the islands were considered cursed for a long time – and it was this that allowed the unique species to develop and thrive, despite the harsh conditions.
Over 97% of the archipelago is preserved as a national park, and as a result the islands are one of the world’s most unspoiled UNESCO Natural Heritage Site.
Given their island status, it’s unsurprising that a lot of the wildlife in the Galapagos heavily features blue and green in its colouring. From the blue footed booby, to the native iguana, penguin, and famous Galapagos tortoise, the colour palette created from these islands is very heavily reminiscent of a paradise found at the end of the world.
Despite the heavily protected nature of the islands, a number of beautiful creatures are still at risk. For instance, of the 15 tortoise species found on the island, six are critically endangered, three are endangered, three are vulnerable, and two are extinct. The marine iguana so similarly facing threats and is now considered vulnerable; the introduction of cats and dogs by the few human populations that are found on the islands has greatly affected the number of iguanas, as has the influx or marine plastic pollution.
India’s incredible wildlife is spread across over one hundred national parks, with approximately 15,600 square miles of protected land. While it is the iconic Bengal tiger that often attracts travellers to an Indian safari, there are so many more incredible animals dotted amongst India’s forests, grasslands, rivers, and mountains. That’s why India’s colourscape is so colourful: with the pink of the flamingos, the earthy colours of a leopard, the orange of the tigers and golden langur, and the bright blues and greens of the landscape, it’s quite spectacular.
India is a country very at risk from climate change and human activity such as deforestation, which is having a devastating impact on the environment and the animals that call the country home. As a result, a number of the most iconic animals from India are on the endangered list – including the Bengal tiger, golden langur, and the leopard. The leopard is threatened because the increase in deforestation and hunting continues to threaten its survival, and this is the same for the Bengal tiger. The golden langur is one of the most endangered primate species in all of India, with a rapidly decreasing population size due to the number of infants that die at a young age, before reproducing, due to their habitat disappearing.
Indonesia is a fantastically diverse archipelago, both in terms of the landscape, and the wildlife that resides here. From great apes, to tigers, elephants, and monkeys, as well as the famous Komodo dragon, and the incredibly endangered Sumatran rhino. Indonesia is made up of over 17,000 islands, with mountains and thick forests covering the majority, and the biodiversity here has created ecosystems virtually isolated from outside influences and factors – which means it’s home to some extreme conditions.
One such creature that has managed to survive Indonesia’s often harsh and difficult climate is the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest lizard that is currently on the endangered list – despite the fact that it can kill animals the size of buffalos with the
bacteria in their toxic bites. Another fantastic animal from Indonesia that is currently endangered is the Cenderawasih bird, which is brightly coloured with a great plume of yellow feathers, and the Sumatran rhino is currently critically endangered with less than 80 currently surviving in the wild. This is a result of poaching, which has caused the population to decline by up to 70% over the last 20 years.
South Africa is a true wildlife gem of the world; right on the southern tip of the African continent, the South African landscape covers an abundance of different ecological systems, from dense green forests to arid desert, making it ideal for a number of species to thrive here. The most iconic animals to come from South Africa are, of course, the Big Five: lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffalo. As a result, the South African colourscape is a selection of dusty browns and oranges, with the occasional injection of colour from the bight grassland.
The animals found in South Africa are famous for their endangered status – there part of the selection of animals whose decreasing population prompted a surge in conservation efforts all over the globe. The African lion, for instance, is categorised as “vulnerable”, while the various species of zebra that can be found across South Africa – such as the Grevy’s zebra – are subject to a declining population. The African elephant is similar, with a lot of the majestic creatures being poached for the ivory trade.
Sri Lanka might be a fairly small country, but it’s by far one of the best places in all of Asia to see an abundance of wildlife. With a mix of big game and marine life, as well as a number of varied landscapes, and the country’s wide range of altitudes, Sri Lanka has the same varied biodiversity one would typically expect from an entire continent. Its island status means it’s home to a variety of fantastic marine creatures – such as the sea turtle and spinner dolphin – while the jungle forests have created the perfect habitat for birdlife, hence why the colourscape is full of bright blues and greens.
One of Sri Lanka’s most impressive creatures is the grey hornbill; native to the country, the grey hornbill is unique as it doesn’t have the top part of the beak that all other hornbills have. Another is the spinner dolphin, famous for its acrobatic displays as it jumps and spins through the air, as well as the sea turtle, which has been classified as endangered; the beautiful animals are hunted for their eggs, meat, skin and shells, meaning they suffer from both poaching and over-exploitation. In addition, the volume of plastic pollution in the ocean has caused their habitats to be damaged and destroyed.
Switzerland is one of those Alpine countries where its wildlife is thriving – despite having decimated the animals over the last few centuries, as much of Europe has
done. Which is fantastic, as the country is full of diverse animals and landscapes, stemming from the beautifully iconic golden eagle to the grizzly bear and chamois, which abound across the snowy mountains and rich green valleys.
The brown bear is one such animal that is great to spot in the wild of Switzerland. Officially declared extinct for almost a century, after the last brown bear was killed in Switzerland in 1904, incredible conservation efforts have brought this bear back, with the species now categories as endangered with a population largely on the rise. Another endangered animal is the chamois; although never officially declared extinct, the chamois is a large animal of Switzerland that has teetered on the edge for the past century, with low population numbers. However, like the brown bear, the animals are slowly coming back, with roughly 1,700 roaming the Swiss mountains.
The UK is one of those fortunate countries to play host to a number of different species of animals – including some that are very distinctly British, such as the red squirrel. A number of native British species are fairly common, such as the cow, but there are a number that are still shocking and enjoyable to spot in the wild when you manage it – the swan, for instance, the entire population of which technically belongs to the Queen. From the bright orange beak of the swan, to the purple and green wild heather fields, the red deer and the rolling hills of the countryside, the UK’s colourscape is varied and bright.
There are, unfortunately, a number of factors that are affecting the environment of the UK and causing the slow decline of a number of native species – the red squirrel, to name one. The main problem is the continued rise of agricultural demands on the environment; agriculture accounts for over 70% of land use in the UK, which has caused soil health to deteriorate and a number of farmland bird species to become affected.
United States of America
The USA is an immense country, spanning over 9 million kilometres squared – so it’s no wonder there’s an impressive amount of wildlife to go with it. The country is inclusive of mammals, reptiles, insects, birds, big cats and more, with surrounding islands and sea containing indigenous wildlife such as the grey wolf, American black bear, white tailed deer, and even the endangered lynx. From the vivid red of the famous and eye-catching Grand Canyon, to the earthy browns and blacks of the native black bear and bison, and the majestic bright yellow-orange of the bald eagle, the USA’s national animal, this country really does have it all.
The bald eagle is a conservation success story that has emerged from the USA; decades ago, the bald eagle was closer to disappearing completely from the country, but thanks to conservation efforts the population is flourishing, and it no longer has a spot on the Endangered Species List. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for the American bison, which is on the endangered list after being brought to near extinction by hunting during the 19th century.