Fauna

  • Parc & Reserve

Unique in its kind, the Souss-Massa National Park (60km south of Agadir) takes you on a journey across continents to encounter several species, including the Dama gazelle, the Oryx gazelle, and the Dorcas gazelle.Furthermore, the region is home to numerous mammals that coexist with the local population, such as the Barbary ground squirrel, the genet, the wild boar, the Barbary deer, and the Cuvier’s gazelle.

Mammals

The Souss-Massa region is home to a fairly diverse mammalian fauna, spread across various habitats and areas.The Souss Massa National Park, stretching along the coastal fringe for 65 km between Agadir and Tiznit, is in itself a national treasure, bearing witness to the richness of considerable biological and ecological diversity. The park is home to over 30 species of mammals.

Hare

Belonging to the family Leporidae, the wild hare is distinctively different from the rabbit: its fur is similar but more reddish, its ears are longer than its head, thin, and light. It possesses long, powerful hind legs that enable it to propel itself in very fast leaps when necessary.There are about thirty species of hares around the world, varying in size, coloration, and lifestyle. Hares are relatively solitary animals, sometimes living in pairs. As adults, they can weigh between 3 to 5 kg.In the Souss Massa region, the hare is a preferred game for many hunters. The species is widespread, and its suitable biological habitat consists of alternating cultivated regions, meadows, and small wooded areas where this solitary animal is more active at night than during the day.

 

Addax

From the family Bovidae, the Addax is an antelope endemic to Africa, and it is nearly extinct in the wild. It used to inhabit various isolated regions of the Sahara. This species has been introduced into the Souss Massa National Park for acclimatization with the aim of reintroducing it to its original habitat in the southern regions of Morocco.

With its whitish-yellowish coat, it has a black mark on its forehead and a brown mane. Both males and females have spiral, ringed horns and large hooves that help them walk on the sand.

Well adapted to the desert, the Addax feeds on leaves and wild melons, enabling it to go without drinking for a significant part of its life.

Ostrich

The ostrich is the largest of all birds, incapable of flight but excellent at running; its ground speed is remarkable, reaching up to 70 km/h. In Morocco, these running birds could still be found in the wild in the Oued Eddahab region during the 1970s. However, in recent years, a reintroduction program has allowed the North African Ostrich (also known as the Red-necked Ostrich) to reappear in its Moroccan distribution area.This program was realized by capturing around thirty ostriches living in the wild in Chad, which were then transferred to the Souss-Massa National Park for acclimatization in the south of Agadir in June 1996. Since then, the number of ostriches has increased, reaching over 150 individuals. This population has become the largest living in semi-captivity across the entire Sahel-Saharan region.

 

Mongoose ichneumon

The Ichneumon mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon) is a species of small carnivorous mammal that has perpetually been admired by humans due to its legendary battles against venomous snakes, earning it the title of “snake killer.” With an elongated body and head, the Ichneumon mongoose has a pointed snout, a bushy tail, and very small ears that almost completely disappear under its grayish fur. Inhabiting the desert, coastal areas, and marshes, this animal also thrives in the Souss-Massa National Park, as well as in the provinces of the southern region.

 

red fox

The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a mammal with a pointed snout and ears, sporting a long and glossy fur and a large, bushy tail.The male is slightly larger than the female.Contrary to the attributes given to it in tales, such as daring, cunning, and deceitful, the red fox is, in fact, a timid, discreet, and nervous animal.Its diet is mainly dependent on voles, mice, lemmings, squirrels, hares, and rabbits, but it also includes a wide variety of foods, including plants. In Morocco, it is a very active species at night, found almost everywhere, particularly in the Atlas Mountains.It is among the mammals recorded in the Souss Massa National Park.

 

Mouflon with cuffs

The Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia), also known as “oudad” in the Amazigh language, is a native species found in the pre-desert mountains of the North African Atlas and rocky regions of the Sahara.This herbivorous mammal can reach a length of 1.65 meters and a height of 1.10 meters. Its fur is a pale tawny color, with the ventral area and inner part of the legs being whitish. A mane of longer hairs runs along its spine and back, extending to the underside of the neck, forming a sort of fringe.In appearance, this bovid is somewhat of an intermediate between a sheep and a goat. It is a sturdy and robust animal with short legs and a fairly long face.

 

Chacal ((African wolf))

“Chacal” is the vernacular name for several species of small to medium-sized mammals from the Canidae family.Recognized by its fur, which is a mixture of tawny and gray, the chacal is a carnivorous mammal measuring between 70 and 85 cm. In appearance, it resembles a fox more, but in reality, it shares the same characteristics as a wolf.

The chacal is found in both Asia and Africa, in plains and shrublands, often not far from herds, always on the lookout for an opportunity to seize a prey.Despite being disliked by people in these regions, the chacal knows how to adapt to all situations and shares its prey with other African predators. Otherwise, it mainly feeds on small prey such as frogs, birds, rodents, small mammals, and insects.

 

marine mammals

The Atlantic Ocean has long been considered a favorite location for several aquatic mammals. Many lucky individuals have had the chance to encounter an otter, a blue or Risso’s dolphin, a rorqual, or a common porpoise.

It is worth noting that other species populate the marine depths, including the viperine snake, the lebetine snake, or the horseshoe snake, as well as the loggerhead turtle and the leatherback turtle.

Orca

The killer whale (Orcinus orca) is a cetacean known as the great predator of the seas. Reigning at the top of the food chain, the killer whale is a creature that is both sensitive, intelligent, and close to its kin.Its appearance is characterized by a black back, a white belly, and a white patch behind and above the eye. The body is powerful and topped with a large dorsal fin. The male can reach a length of up to 9 meters and weigh around 8 to 9 tonnes.

 

It should be noted that groups of killer whales frequently roam in the Atlantic, both north and south of Agadir. Coming up from the south, they particularly enjoy the ocean when it is calm and waveless.

common dolphin

The short-beaked common dolphin is a toothed cetacean (odontocete) measuring between 1.80m and 2.60m, with a weight ranging from 75 to 115kg.

It has excellent vision and possesses a sonar system that allows it to emit sounds in the form of clicks and whistles.

It propels itself out of the water using its tail fins and swims very rapidly, reaching speeds of up to 50 km/h.

This marine mammal usually lives offshore but can approach the coasts. It inhabits the tropical, subtropical, and warm-temperate waters of the Atlantic and Pacific, including the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It often makes beautiful appearances along the region’s coastline, escorting boats for the pleasure of boaters.

 

Birds

A true paradise for nature lovers, especially ornithology enthusiasts, the Souss-Massa region is a territorial domain that harbors a community of 350 bird species, passionately admired by cosmopolitan visitors from around the world. These visitors are willing to overcome any obstacles and endure possible inconveniences during expeditions just to get closer and contemplate these feathered vertebrates.

Among these species, some are highly prized as game birds, attracting many hunters to the region. These include the Red-legged Partridge, Rock Pigeon, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, and Quail, among others.

Moussier’s redstart

The Moussier’s Redstart (Phoenicurus moussieri) is a small, sturdy bird with a relatively larger head and shorter tail compared to other redstarts. The adult male is unmistakable: it has a completely rusty underside, including the rump. The rest of the upper parts are black. However, its most remarkable distinguishing feature is a broad white eyebrow that starts from the top of the forehead, extends above the eyes, and goes far along the sides of the neck. A prominent white patch is also visible on the wing.

Mallard duck (migratory)

The Mallard duck, also known as the common teal, is a bird that inhabits the majority of the globe. It loves rivers, bays, lakes, and places with small freshwater streams, just like the Souss-Massa National Park, where it evolves peacefully.

It is widely recognized worldwide for its bright green head and neck, along with a white collar. Its breast is a pronounced brown, and its sides and belly are of a pale gray color. The male Mallard’s bill is yellow.

 

White stork

The White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) is a migratory wading bird. It measures between 90 and 110 cm in height and weighs up to 4 kg. The White Stork spends the winter in warm countries, including Morocco, where it is frequently observed at the Souss-Massa National Park.In flight, the stork can be mistaken for a White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus). However, its neck is extended, its legs extend beyond the tail, and it flies in a disorderly circular motion (while pelicans fly in a synchronized manner).

 

Pink flamingos

Pink flamingos are a gregarious species, living in groups often numbering several hundred. They are one of the undeniable symbols of the Souss Massa region, mainly found in the Souss-Massa National Park, along the banks and estuaries of the Massa and Souss rivers. This bird is a true curiosity, with its unique silhouette and coloration on the continent. It is the only species of phoenicopterid (flamingo family) that cannot be confused: the bird, when perched, presents an entirely light pink body, long pink webbed feet, and a short, curved beak with a black tip. Due to their size, flamingos need a few meters of a run-up to take off from the water. Erratic in flight, they fly in formation, keeping their neck and legs stretched out. Their powerful and steady wingbeats propel them at speeds of up to 60 km/h during stages of several hundred kilometers.

 

Bald ibis PNSM

Declared as one of the 100 most endangered species in the world by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita) is an ancient ornithological curiosity that has experienced a significant population decline over the past centuries, leaving only a few hundred individuals remaining worldwide. Morocco is one of the rare countries where this species still persists, especially along the coastline of the Souss Massa region.

Measuring between 70 and 80 cm and weighing 1 kg, or up to 1.5 kg for larger individuals, it lives in the wild, in small colonies, in wetland areas on semi-arid rock faces and coastal cliffs. Its plumage is black with blue, green, or purple reflections. It has a bald head and part of the neck, with cherry-red skin, and slate-gray on the occiput. Its long, slender, and curved beak, as well as its legs, are bright red.

 

The grey Heron (PNSM)

The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) is a majestic bird that can typically reach a height of 95 cm and a wingspan of 1.85 m, with a weight ranging from 1.5 to 2 kg. It has a long neck and a large, yellow beak shaped like a dagger. It is easily recognizable by its yellow legs and its gray plumage, except for its head and lower parts, which are white.This bird, found in the grounds of the Souss-Massa National Park, also has a sort of long black crest on its head, which extends down to its back. Its stoic posture when at rest is particularly recognizable; it can stand for hours on one leg without moving, with its neck tucked between its shoulders.

 

Hirondelle (Tamri)

The Swallow belongs to the family Hirundinidae, a small family of birds that includes approximately 87 species distributed worldwide.Several species of swallows live in colonies and build nests in cavities, where they lay four to six eggs. Swallows are graceful gliders. At the end of summer, they gather on wires along the roadsides, and often several species are observed together. The village of Tamri (located 60 km north of Agadir) is one of the prominent places in the Souss Massa region where this species can be observed.

 

Seagull

The seagulls belong to the family Laridae. They are characterized by white and gray plumage, mostly white, and have a high-pitched cry. They inhabit many coastlines around the world, including those in the Souss Massa region.The most common seagull along our coasts is the Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus). It gets its name from its raucous call, which sounds like a laugh or chuckle.

 

Slender-Billed Gulls (Tamri)

From the family Laridae, Slender-billed Gulls (Chroicocephalus genei) are water birds with long wings. Adults can be distinguished from other gulls by a white patch on the back of their wings, a long, thick, and dark red beak, and a slightly orangish tint on the breast and belly. The purity of lines and the simplicity of colors enhance the subtle pink hue of the breast, often just hinted at. Similar to other species, Slender-billed Gulls grace the skies of the village of Tamri (60km north of Agadir).

 

 

The Audouin’s Gull (Tamri)

The Audouin’s Gull (Ichthyaetus audouinii) is a bird that belongs to the family Laridae. It is a species that lives in colonies and is highly dependent on marine-based food, particularly the availability of fish. Hence, it is continually present in coastal villages, including Tamri (60 km north of Agadir).This bird is very sensitive to disturbance, especially during nest establishment and construction. Any landing on the islets where it nests can compromise the success of reproduction (and therefore the survival of the species). The second threat is predation on the young, primarily by Yellow-legged Gulls (Larus michahellis).

 

Rapaces

The White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)

is a large species of wading birds belonging to the Ciconiidae family. Its plumage is mainly white, with black wings. Adults have long red legs and a long, straight red beak. They measure on average 100 to 115 cm from the tip of the beak to the tip of the tail, with a wingspan ranging from 155 to 215 cm. Their lifespan is 20 to 30 years. It is a migratory bird that spends the winter in warm countries, including Morocco. It can be seen notably in the Souss-Massa National Park, where it finds tranquility and favorable conditions for its wintering. In flight, the stork can be mistaken for a White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus). However, its neck is stretched, the legs extend beyond the tail, and it flies in a disorderly circle (while pelicans fly in a synchronized manner).

 

The Golden Eagle

The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is a carnivorous raptor considered one of the natural treasures of the Kingdom of Morocco. It is threatened with extinction and protected by several international conventions that prohibit hunting, disturbing its tranquility, or even attempting to tame it. This rare mythical bird defends a territory that can reach 155 km² and uses its agility, speed, and extremely powerful talons to catch its prey. It is monogamous, and a pair can stay together for several years, even for life. It measures between 66 and 100 cm in length, with a wingspan generally ranging from 1.8 to 2.34 m. Males and females weigh around 4.05 kg and 6.35 kg, respectively.The Golden Eagle is recognizable by its upper parts, which are mainly a dark brown color, except for the crown, nape, and median coverts that are paler and have feathers with light tawny tips. The wing feathers are gray with darker inner vanes. The tail has a gray base barred with brown, and a dark brown terminal band. The wings are wide and rectangular, and the tail is relatively long and broad with a rounded tip.

 

The Bonelli’s Eagle

The Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata) is a medium-sized eagle, smaller than the Golden Eagle, measuring between 60 to 70 cm in length, with a wingspan of 150 to 170 cm, and weighing between 1.5 to 2 kg. It is identifiable by its plumage, having a characteristic white patch that grows with age on its back, and it presents a strong contrast between its dark wings and the rest of the body, which is white. The young eagles, on the other hand, have a reddish color and only acquire their adult plumage around 3 to 4 years old. This eagle has a relatively long lifespan as it can reach the age of 30 years in the wild.

 

The Peregrine Falcon

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) belongs to the family of small to medium-sized diurnal birds of prey. When perched, the Peregrine Falcon appears “compact,” shorter and relatively broader in the shoulders compared to the Common Buzzard, and it is also noticeably less bulky. In fact, the female has the size of a large wood pigeon, while the male, one-third smaller (hence its name “tiercelet”), is about the size of a domestic pigeon. During the breeding season, both partners engage in aerial displays: chasing, steep dives, and loopings, which are quite spectacular. During vertical dives from great heights, its speed can exceed 350 km/h.ù

 

The Lanner Falcon

The Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus) belongs to the Falconidae family. With an imposing size, the Lanner Falcon is a relatively slim bird with a streamlined body. It can come in various forms that vary depending on the subspecies of Lanners, but there are also significant individual variations. The upper parts are slate gray or gray-brown barred with dark markings. The underparts are finely spotted, except in males (especially older ones) that may have an almost uniform, white underside. It is a sedentary raptor, widespread but not very abundant in almost all regions of Morocco, more common in the south than in the north. It lives and hunts in pairs, with the female acting as a driver and flushing out the prey while the male stays back, ready to swoop down on the victim. This technique, quite unusual among raptors, allows the Lanner Falcon to secure sufficient resources for its survival.

Marine reptiles

The green Sea Turtle

The Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) is one of the marine turtles that are globally threatened due to accidental or deliberate fishing activities. It is present in tropical waters of all oceans, but its abundance varies in different regions. It is often spotted along the southern coast of Morocco and in Mauritania. This marine turtle is the largest of the Cheloniidae family, with an average carapace length of 1.10 meters and a weight ranging from 80 to 130 kilograms. Some individuals can weigh up to 300 kilograms with a carapace length of 1.5 meters.

In the early stages of its life, the Green Sea Turtle is carnivorous to ensure rapid growth. It consumes small invertebrates and fish eggs. As it reaches adulthood, it becomes primarily herbivorous, feeding almost exclusively on algae found in seagrass meadows. However, it may also consume jellyfish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other animals that are caught in the aquatic vegetation.

 

The Viperine Snake

The Viperine Snake (Natrix maura) is an aquatic snake that inhabits humid environments in warm regions. It is often mistaken for a viper due to its size, color, and defensive behavior, which involves coiling into a spiral, flattening its head, and hissing. However, it is completely harmless.

The Viperine Snake can reach up to 1 meter in length, with the largest females reaching this size. Its appearance features a grayish-green color with dark spots or zigzag stripes. The belly is whitish-yellow with dark spots scattered on it.

This reptile primarily feeds on small fish and amphibians, while the younger ones may hunt for fry or tadpoles.

Rodents

Porcupine

Le porc-épic (Hystrix cristata) is the third largest rodent in the world, after the capybara and the beaver. Its fur consists of both underfur and guard hairs. Approximately 30,000 rigid quills cover its head, neck, rump, and tail. The porc-épic is not always easy to spot when it is in its den or up in a tree, but its feeding habits, loud chewing, cut twigs, and pieces of bark torn off can give away its presence. During the summer, the porc-épic feeds on leaves and buds. It also consumes aquatic plants such as water lilies and arrowheads. Its diet includes various terrestrial plants like herbs, grasses, and raspberry plants, as well as nuts like acorns and beech mast. Its presence is more commonly identified in the Souss Massa National Park.