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Titicaca Lake Biodiversity
Flora an Fauna of the lake.
Puno
Nicole Maxdeo
April 5, 2024

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Lake Titicaca is also the main source of income for people living on its shores. Between craftsmanship and experiential tourism, join us in discovering the best of Peru’s largest lake. Ready to discover the Titicaca Lake Biodiversity?

Table of Contents

General Information

Before talking about the Titicaca Lake Biodiversity. The name Titicaca comes from the two Quechua words Titi, which means Puma, and Caca, which means mountain. This name reminds us that felines lived in the vicinity of the territory many centuries ago. As a curious fact, locals claim that if you turn the map of the lake upside down, you will notice that it has the shape of a puma "eating" a hare.

This theory has great value because many of the boats found on the lake have a puma mask on their bows. These masks are made of totora, a plant material used in the daily life of the local natives, including their homes, as the locals live on floating islands made of totora.

Titicaca Lake Biodiversity: Flora and Fauna

Lake Titicaca belongs to the altiplanic puna seca ecoregion, which has an arid and mountainous climate, with little likelihood of rain and temperatures ranging between 3°C and 19°C throughout the year. Sunlight is intense, and in the peaks surrounding the lake, the climate is icy, extremely dry, and with little to no biodiversity.

The water temperature of Lake Titicaca is around 13°C. It forms wetlands, mountain shrubs, swamps, grasslands, and mountain meadows; and exhibits great biodiversity, with a high level of endemism. Some of the flora part of Titicaca Lake Biodiversity:

  • Buddleja coriacea
  • Chachacoma
  • Cola de zorro acuática
  • Fabiana densa
  • Lenteja de agua común
  • Paja brava
  • Totora o espadaña
  • Vinagrilla

Regarding fauna, we can highlight the following species of amphibians, birds, mammals, fish, and reptiles that inhabit Lake Titicaca:
Alpaca

  • Avefría andina
  • Boa constrictora
  • Boga del lago Titicaca
  • Carachi amarillo
  • Carachi blanco
  • Carachi enano
  • Carachi negro
  • Cauquén
  • Chinchilla de cola corta
  • Chingolo
  • Chingue
  • Chirigüe puneño
  • Chorlo mayor de patas amarillas, entre otros.
  • Zorro culpeo

Best Time to Visit Lake Titicaca

The dry season, from May to September, could be considered the best season to visit Lake Titicaca. Temperatures range between 15°C and 20°C during the day and can drop to 5°C and 0°C at night.

During these months, we can find sunny, temperate days, without much cold and with skies that will take your breath away. We always recommend being prepared for the cold. For sure, the best season to enjoy the Titicaca Lake Biodiversity.

Importance of Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is one of the most important bodies of water in the Andean region. The natural border between the nations of Bolivia and Peru (where authorities declared it a natural heritage and treasure) represents it, and it is the habitat of countless species (many of them endemic). It also forms some parks, refuges, and natural reserves, including the Island of Cayñajune, the Titicaca National Reserve, and the Vicuñas Yuspiki Sanctuary.

On its shores are spectacular lakeside beaches, museums, squares, and places of historical and architectural interest (including ruins of pre-Hispanic buildings).

 

Protection of the Titicaca Lake

The various authorities of Puno presented a bill aimed at addressing and bringing to the forefront the issue of Lake Titicaca's recovery. Thanks to this project, the aim is to declare an environmental emergency for the tributaries of Lake Titicaca, in order to reduce pollution in the highest navigable lake in the world.

According to this project, we plan immediate actions to counteract pollution in the area and address the threat of extinction facing the various species inhabiting the surrounding area.

Therefore, we have agreed upon measures to restore this important lake in the Peruvian territory, with a deadline set for the end of the current year.

Endangered Animals of Lake Titicaca

Unfortunately, like many ecosystems, species in Lake Titicaca are at risk of disappearing. Many animals are highly exposed to human mismanagement, unjustified hunting, or simply the damage and pollution caused in the area. The species at risk include:

Giant Titicaca Frog

The giant Titicaca frog is a characteristic amphibian of the area that inhabits Peru and some areas of Bolivia. It is called giant because its body is larger than the average frogs in the area, reaching a size between 30 and 50 cm. Their weight, being such large animals, varies between 180 grams and they have a sticky and smooth skin. They generally have dark green colors.

For almost two decades, 80% of its population has been disappearing because many people destroy their habitat. Another factor is that this animal is considered for exotic dishes or medicinal juices that science has not been able to clarify.

Titicaca Grebe

This bird is also in danger of disappearing completely. This bird is characterized by its strong beak and legs that allow it to dive into the lake waters and emerge quickly after capturing its prey.

Like the giant frog, this bird is native to the area between Peru and Bolivia. Its danger arises because its habitat is being destroyed and it cannot find food to feed on. Many times this bird also falls into fishing nets, which often causes it to die trying to escape.

Karachi

This fish is also part of the vulnerable species of Lake Titicaca. This fish is characterized by its spiny body, bulging eyes, and small size. Its flesh is delicious and highly valued by many diners.

This species is native to the lake and is in danger of extinction because the surroundings of the lake are being affected by pollution, climate change, and overfishing.

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