Zapata Swamp, Cuba

Zapata Swamp, Cuba Photo
©John Thorbjarnarson

At more than one million acres, the Zapata Swamp is one of the most extensive remnants of coastal Caribbean biodiversity left in the region. The region encompasses blue-water beaches, forests, rivers, lakes, flooded caverns, ponds, and swamp prairies. Its most noted wildlife resident is the Cuban crocodile.

Fast Facts

  • Nearly 900 plant species, 175 bird species, 31 reptile species, and more than 1,000 species of invertebrates call this diverse area home.
  • Covering more than 2,300 square miles, the Zapata Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area in Cuba and in the entire Caribbean region.


Serious threats to this wetland are drainage, unsustainable agriculture practices and the pollution associated with them, charcoal production, grazing, peat extraction, and the invasion of exotic species. The Cuban crocodile is threatened by illegal hunting for its meat, which is sold mainly to tourists, and hybridization with the American crocodile.

WCS Responds

WCS is surveying the Cuban crocodile population and its remaining habitat to ensure the species’ survival.

From the Newsroom

A Cuban Crocodile CrisisJune 22, 2011

A DNA study finds that Cuban and American crocodiles are getting along a little too well. Interbreeding between the species is putting the Cuban croc at risk for extinction.

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