Morocco has a wide range of biodiversity, making it an excellent stop within a larger safari vacation. As part of the Mediterranean basin, the area has an exceptional concentration of endemic species. A trip will almost guarantee boar, monkey, desert cat, or ibis sightings—it pairs well with southern and western African safari trips, where you might see larger mammals.
Unfortunately, many species in Morocco are critically endangered and undergoing rapid rates of habitat loss, making Morocco a priority for global conservation efforts. Organizations like the Moroccan Primate Conservation, the Rufford Small Grants Foundation, and the Barbary Macaque Awareness and Conservation (BMAC) NGO are trying to preserve the low numbers of endemic fauna left in the country. Below are a few faunae you should watch for during your Moroccan holiday:
Barbary Macaque—This is the only monkey in Africa to be found north of the Sahara Desert. Found in the forests and more remote parts of the country, their numbers are declining as their habitat is reduce by logging, clearing for crops, and overgrazing by livestock. However, a trip to the Strait of Gibraltar is almost sure to guarantee a sighting.
Mouflon—This wild sheep is thought to be one of the two ancestors for all modern domestic sheep breeds. They have reddish- or dark brown, short-haired coats with dark back stripes. The males have large, curved horns; mature rams can expect to see almost one full revolution in their horns. They inhabit the Caucasus, Anatolia, northern/eastern Iraq, and large parts of Iran and Armenia. Visitors are most likely to see these animals in Morocco’s rocky south.
Sand Cat—Also known as the sand dune cat, this is the only cat living foremost in true deserts. Found widely within the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, this little feline was once listed as “near threatened” on the IUCN Red List. However, in 2016, it was down-listed to “least concern” in 2016. Visitors to Morocco can expect to see Sand Cats in the southern, rocky desert part of the country.
Northern Bald Ibis—Known colloquially as the waldrapp, this migratory bird is found primarily in barren, semi-desert, and rocky habitats close to running water. Unlike other members of the ibis family, it is non-wading. Endemic to Morocco, this bird was once widespread across the Middle East, northern Africa, and southern/central Europe, but it is now critically endangered. If you want to see one of these magnificent birds, make a trip to the Souss-Massa National Park (Parc National de Souss-Massa) on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.
Egyptian Mongoose—This funny little creature is found primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and along the western coast of the continent. However, likely introduced during the Arab occupation, visitors can also catch a glimpse in Morocco and along the Iberian Peninsula. This mongoose prefers to live in forests, savanna, or scrub, and it is never far from water; visitors can see it along the Mediterranean coast of Morocco.