Equatorial animals include mammals such as elephants and jaguars, amphibians and reptiles such as poison dart frogs and anacondas, and a wide variety of insects and birds. Due to habitat loss, several of these species are endangered.
Many of the world's most important rainforests lie on or near the equator. Evolution occurs more quickly near the equator and equatorial regions boast some of the Earth's greatest species diversity. Rainforests are also home to may endangered animals, due mostly to habitat loss.
The African elephant is the world's largest land mammal and the forest subspecies of this huge mammal makes its home in equatorial forests of western and central Africa. Equally impressive is the jaguar, which makes its home in a diversity of habitats including the equatorial rainforests of South America.
Amphibians and reptiles abound in equatorial regions. Tiny, jewel-like poison dart frogs provide indigenous hunters with poison for darts and arrows. Native to Central and South America, the green anaconda is one the world's largest snakes. The golden toad was once found in 1.5 square miles of high altitude forest in Costa Rica; sadly, the last sighting of a golden toad was in 1989.
African grey parrots, king vultures and Andean condors are among the endangered bird species of equatorial regions.
Insect biodiversity in rainforests is staggering and includes leafcutter ants. Leafcutters are a model of sustainable agriculture; these ants harvest only small pieces of a great variety of plants, ensuring that no one plant builds up defenses against the ants.