FLORA AND FAUNA
Stretching over 13,000 km2, Esteros del Iberá comprise the largest freshwater reservoir of Argentina. The wetlands are home to over 4 thousand plant and animal species, representing 30% of the total biodiversity of Argentina.
Richly diverse, the Iberá region is a haven for national and international endangered species, such as the Azara caiman (Liolaemus azarai), the broad-snouted caiman (Caiman latirostris), the yacare caiman (Caiman yacaré), the saffron-cowled blackbird (Xanthopsar flavus), the marshland deer (Blastocerus dichotomus), the maned wolf or Aguará Guazú (Chrysocyon brachyurus) and, in their habitat, the pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus), to name a few.
Continuous study over the years has led to the identification of some 85 mammal species, 35 reptile species, and approximately 45 amphibian species. There are some 360 bird species, 90% of which are native species.
It goes without saying that almost all these species have aquatic habits to a larger or lesser extent.
Aquatic vegetation is plentiful and covers extensive areas. The water hyacinth (Eichhornia spp) is the most widespread and generally forms the basis for floating soil formations called embalsados, jointly with the water poppy (Hydrocleys nymphoides), the fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana), totora (Scirpus californicus) and Achiras or Pehuajos (Thalia spp).
In the swamplands and lowlands, there are grasslands of Jesuit grass (Axonopus jesuiticus) and Pastito de Agua grass varieties (Luziola and Leersia).
Dirt and seeds carried by the wind settle on the floating soil formations, which develop thick bases on which some land species of shrubs and trees may grow, most notably, the ceibo, curupí, river laurel, sarandí and sangre de drago, to name a few.
The ñangapiri or pitanga, lapacho, laurel, ombú, willow, timbó and urunday are the most significant species in the peripheral forests, as well as the caranday, pindó, yatay and yatay ponhí palm groves.
Hydrophytic forests are the realm of the arary (Calophyllum brasiliense), twisted fig tree (Ficus luschnathiana), yerba caona (Citronella gongonha), laurel (Ocotea lancifolia) and ambay (Cecropia pachystachya).
In the south, vegetation is represented by tall grass patches and savanna stretches, with thick clusters of carob trees (Prosopis nigra), ñandubay (Prosopis affinis) and espinillo (Acacia caven).