The Falkland Islands are an exceptional place for wildlife where nature is still in charge both on land and in the surrounding seas. There are spectacular seabird colonies, rare plants and insects, and two endemic birds. There are no native trees, but tussac grass grows up to three metres (10ft) tall and provides nesting sites for 30 species of birds and shelter for sea lions and elephant seals. You will find information on the best time to see birds and marine mammals and on wildlife habitats in the section About Falklands Wildlife.
Many fascinating birds, most of them remarkably numerous and tame, can be seen in and around the Falkland Islands. 219 species have been recorded: 21 are resident land birds, 18 waterbirds, 22 breeding seabirds, 18 annual non-breeding migrants and at least 140 occasional visitors. The vagrants are often species that breed in South America which are blown westward when on spring or autumn migrations. The Falkland Flightless Steamer Duck and Cobb's Wren are unique to the Falklands and found no-where else. Visit the sections Penguins and Albatross and Petrels to find out more about these very special Falkland birds. For all other species and a complete Falklands check list go to Birds.
Plants 178 native flowering plants grow in the Islands, 14 of which are endemic.
For a complete check list and information on particular species go to Plants.
For a description of the Falkland habitat types click here.
For a description on some of the Falkland Fungi click here.
Insects and Invertebrates Many unique insects including the rare and beautiful Queen of the Falklands Fritillary butterfly are found in the Islands. Some species are new to science and yet to be named.
Freshwater Life Numerous wildfowl inhabit fresh water and brackish ponds, along with the native fish species including zebra trout and the Falkland's freshwater minnow. For more information go to Freshwater Life.
Marine Life The rich seas surrounding the Falklands Islands contain a wealth of wildlife which is highlighted in the Shallow Marine Survey. Coastal waters are home to many species of whales and dolphins, seals and sea lions.
The Falkland Islands State of the Environment Report 2008 (4928kb PDF) provides detailed information on the current knowledge of the Falklands’ environment, including its wildlife, both on land and at sea, including geology, meteorology, ecology and biology. It also describes the human population, social infrastructure and commercial and recreational activities undertaken within land and marine habitats. It highlights processes that threaten the Islands’ wildlife and identified policies to mitigate these. It reports that the Islands are unlikely to experience any global warming because of melting of Antarctic ice which will probably result in cooler temperatures, increased cloud cover and levels of rainfall.
It might seem, given the remoteness of the Falkland Islands, that the impact of human activities has been minimal. However, in the past: seals and penguins were slaughtered in hundreds of thousands for their skins and oil; uncontrolled grazing by sheep and cattle and deliberate burning reduced the native coastal tussac grass to one fifth ot its original extent and the warrah, an endemic fox, was hunted to extinction by the early settlers. Today the development of an offshore oil industry and a large commercial fishery across the Patagonian Shelf pose potentially grave threats to our wildlife. The accidental introduction of rats, mice and feral cats with the early settlers has led to the destruction of thousands of ground nesting petrels and songbirds. Changes in agriculture can encourage non-native introductions and new roads improve access to previously isolated areas. Our lack of knowledge on many species in the Southern Ocean food chain is a serious risk in itself and there is an urgent need for more research. Red tides caused by toxic algaes growing in warmer waters and climate change may also have severe impacts in the long term.
Falklands Conservation has been working to protect the wildlife of the Falklands for over 30 years. Based in Stanley, Falklands Conservation is a thriving charity at the heart of the Islands' community. Over the years the organisation has worked to protect sensitive and important sites for wildlife; 22 Important Bird Areas have been designated along with 16 Important Plant Areas. Since 1998, small tussac islands have been targeted for rat eradication, helping the endemic Cobb's wren, other songbirds and small burrowing petrels to re-colonise these rat free islands. Falklands Conservation owns 19 small offshore islands and islets which are protected as nature reserves. Many of our seabirds and marine mammals return only to the Falklands to breed. For the rest of the year they forage over vast distances at sea. To ensure successful protection of these oceanic species we must work at an international level to promote best practices throughout their foraging ranges and by co-operating in a number of regional and international conservation initiatives and attending conferences to share our scientific data and expertise.