Wildlife and vegetation
Like the flora, the faunal presence in El Torcal has been conditioned in many cases by the intervention in the environment by man. The vertebrate species inventoried within the Site reaches the figure of 116, distributed as follows: a species of Amphibian, 11 Reptiles, 82 Birds and 22 Mammals. There are many species of invertebrates, mostly insects, which are the basis for feeding many of the vertebrate animal species that live in the Sierra.
One of the most remarkable values of the El Torcal faunal composition is the richness of the birds that it supports, either in a sedentary way or simply as a transit station in the migratory routes or as a nesting point. In this sense, the Natural Park was declared as a Special Zone for the Protection of Birds (ZEPA in Spanish).
But some of these bird species have become really rare due to pressure from the man (poisons, pillage of nests, uncontrolled sports activities, etc.), as has happened with the golden eagle, the peregrine falcon or the Bonelli’s eagle. Many of them nest in the pits, hence the importance of not doing free-flight or climbing activities in them. The griffon vultures are usually over El Torcal, either passing between the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes-Sierra Huma and the Sierras de Camarolos and el Jobo, or when they come to eat cattle carcasses (authorized in some areas of the Paraje).
The reptiles present in the Natural Park depend to a large extent on thermal factors, so they are fully active in spring and summer, at which time they can be seen frequently. We emphasize fundamentally the following species; ocellated lizard, colilarga and Iberian lizard, stair snake, bastard snake and snout viper (Vipera latastei), dangerous bite for its poisonous injection.
Among mammals, the vole is easily detected in the sinkhole areas by the mounds that result from their digging activity; Most of the rest are usually located better through their droppings, as is the case with foxes, badgers, weasels and rabbits, as the most representative species.
The El Torcal massif constitutes a geographical area of rich and varied flora, which greatly increases the importance of its natural values. The present degradation of the vegetal cover in a good part of its surface, due to charcoal, felling, livestock activity or anthropogenic action of any other nature, does not prevent the presence of some enclaves of climactic vegetation and of diverse endemic species of great importance. interest. The richness in botanical species is considerable, having been found in the Natural Park at least 664 species of plants, grouped in almost a hundred families; Thus, 12 species of lichens, 77 of Briofitos (mosses and liverworts), 10 of Pteridophytes (ferns) and 565 of plants with seed (Espermaphytes) are mentioned.
The botanical communities of major botanical importance within the Site are the rocky ones, adapted to the fissures and cracks of the rocks, with plants many of them endemic that need strict norms of conservation. This has forced the creation of a reserve area within the Torcal Alto in order to preserve certain plant communities of interest. The most representative rupicolous species are Linaria anticaria, Saxifraga biternata, Linaria oblongifolia, Viola demetria, Saxifraga reuterana, Polypodium australe, among many others.
The potential vegetation of El Torcal corresponds to that of holm oaks, with the arboreal stratum represented by oaks, gall oaks, serbales or maples. The thorny and blackberry formations usually cover much of the Torcal Alto, with honeysuckle, shrubs and plants from the forest border (majoleto hawthorn, elderberry, blackberry, wild rose, peonies, etc.). Other plant communities of interest due to their relationship with the cattle activity, are the grasslands and cardizales, which are usually located in sinkholes or “enclosures” with plant species such as Poa bulbosa, Trifolium subterraneum, Ranunculus bulbosus, Onopordon illyricum, Sylibum marianum or other more rare such as Dianthus anticarius or Nepeta amethystina. As a species to be noted for the beauty of the forms that originates in combination with the rock, is the ivy, very abundant in the Torcal Alto, with some truly spectacular specimens.
As you can see, the great botanical wealth of El Torcal contains rare or threatened plants, so we ask for your help so that they do not disappear; try not to damage the plants, do not start your flowers, as these are usually the only ones that guarantee the reproduction of the plants that produce them.