A firefighter with a chameleon resed from the blaze. / SUR

Sierra Bermeja fire affects dozens of protected species, some unique in the world

The Sierra Bermeja and the Genal Valley are home to 14 types of invertebrates that are not found in any other part of the planet

JUAN SOTO

The fire raging in the Sierra Bermeja and the Genal valley is also taking its toll on the biodiversity of the area. The flames are affecting dozens of protected species, some of them unique in the world.

Biologist Felipe Román, a zoology specialist, is one of the people most familiar with the secrets of these mountains after 30 years of research.

He explained that there are as many as 14 species of unique invertebrates in this area, where the fire is having a dramatic effect.

Most of the species there are protected by the EU, he said. While there's no official census, among the most important inhabitants of this sierra are two or three pairs of golden eagles, at least 20 eagle owls and around 300 Iberian ibex, although the invertebrates, more difficult to count, make up the area's hidden natural wealth.

Among the invertebrates are protected species of freshwater fish: the boga of the Guadiana and the chub of the Genal, both unique in southern Europe.

The amphibians include frogs and toads (such as the Iberian painted frog, the natterjack toad or the Penibetic salamander).

Among the threatened reptiles are chameleons, as well as snakes such as the Vipera latastei and the horseshoe whip snake, the type most protected by the European Union.

Lizards and geckos also live in the nature reserve. Especially relevant is the lizard known as the 'largarto bético', which was first discovered in the Sierra Bermeja.

Apart from the proected species, the fire has also meant that dozens of animals have had to be rescued from farms and rural estates. Malaga vets have offered their help to farmers affected by the fire and have set up a 24-hour helpline 630 809 923; as well as 952 391 790.