The 6 endemic species of Tenerife that could disappear due to the fire

In the realm of invertebrates, Tenerife boasts a higher number of endemic species than even Hawaii or the Galapagos Islands.

The representative from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in the Canary Islands, Manuel Nogales, has expressed his apprehension regarding the potential loss of native plant and invertebrate species that may have been impacted by the ongoing fire in Tenerife, which began last Tuesday.

Nogales is particularly focused on six indigenous plant species that have been affected, with the possibility of a seventh being added to the list. These species include the Añavingo cabezón, pigeon’s beak, Acentejo alamillo (all three native to the island), Canary Island cedar, Canary Island garbancera, and Añavingo ravine orchid. Unfortunately, all of these species are categorized as either vulnerable or critically endangered, intensifying the concern.

The 6 endemic species of Tenerife that could disappear due to the fire.

Of utmost concern is the situation of the plant Lotus berthelotii or pigion’s peak. The island had only three known natural populations of this species, all situated in pine forest areas that have been affected by the raging fire. The fire has already ravaged over 5,000 hectares across a perimeter spanning more than 50 kilometres. This devastation leads to the belief that a significant number of these precious specimens may have been lost.


Nogales elaborates on the three primary habitats in the affected area: the Canary Island pine forest, which stretches across the entire mountain range and serves as the main forest reserve on the island; a mixed forest combining Canary Island pine with elements of the laurel forest—primarily oak, laurel, and fayas; and an older section of laurel forest that once connected Teno with Anaga at elevations between 400 and 700 metres above sea level.

The loss of the laurel forest is particularly distressing, as only a few well-preserved remnants remain in Anaga and Teno, concentrated at the extremities. Additionally, areas that were in the process of recovery over recent decades, like the slopes of Tigaiga in Los Realejos, are now potentially engulfed by the fire.

The potential intrusion of the fire into the Teide National Park is also a major worry. Although the flames nearly reached the “very end” of this protected area, efforts were successful in halting their advance near La Tarta. Nogales expresses that the ongoing disaster would be further exacerbated if the flames were to infiltrate the Teide, considering it as the final straw.


Turning attention to vertebrate creatures, Nogales acknowledges the complexity of the situation, given that nearly twenty species endemic to Tenerife and the Canary Islands inhabit the fire-stricken region. Among these, several species of bats hold significance, including the endemic Canary Island big-eared bat, found exclusively in Tenerife, La Palma, and El Hierro. Reptile species in jeopardy include the typhoon lizard, Delalande’s perenquen, and the golden mullet, the latter being indigenous to Tenerife.

The impact on avian species is also distressing, with eight endemic island species threatened by the flames. Notably, the blue chaffinch, exclusive to Tenerife, faces particular peril, especially as young individuals are in the midst of their breeding season. Other affected bird species include the Canary Island chaffinch, common chaffinch, woodpecker, turquoise pigeon, and common rufous-tailed pigeon. The affected area is crucial for sustaining pigeon populations on the island.

The ability of these creatures to adapt to alternative habitats, as observed during the major forest fire in Gran Canaria in 2007, is highlighted. They will need to navigate the profound changes unfolding due to the ongoing catastrophe.


Shifting focus to invertebrates, Nogales acknowledges their often overlooked role in gauging the impacts on flora and fauna. Approximately 200 endemic invertebrate species could face consequences, despite this area not being considered a primary hub for these organisms. These invertebrates thrive in volcanic caves beneath the surface, boasting populations among the world’s most diverse. Surprisingly, these cave-dwelling populations host more endemic species than the volcanic archipelagos of Hawaii or the Galapagos, similar to the Canary Islands.

Nogales laments the potential harm to these cave ecosystems, which rely on plant roots above ground to sustain their communities. However, the true extent of the effects on the local flora and fauna will only become clear once the fire is brought under control.

Scroll to Top