Flora and fauna of Egypt

Flora of Egypt

The Egyptian flora is represented by a wide variety of desert plants and trees, unique desert flowers and herbs. The Nile Delta is a green oasis where many kinds of beautiful flowering trees and shrubs are easily found.

Variety of plants

The Lotus and the Papyrus were the symbols of Lower and Upper Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs and we know from the Holy Quran that Egypt was famous for vegetables such as onions, garlic and lentils. Now palm trees dominate the landscape. The Nile Delta and Nile River Valley have a rich variety of trees, some indigenous, others imported – including Tamarisk, Acacia, Eucalyptus, Mimosa, Jacaranda, Cypress and Sycamore, as well as a wide variety of fruit trees such as Citrus, Figs, Mango. Other fruits and vegetables flourish in the fertile lands along the Nile, as well as a vivid array of flowers from the Rose Poinciana, Lotus (of course), Jasmine, Lily, Bird of Paradise and Sunflower. A multitude of herbs and plants grow along the Nile as well.

The Palm trees

The national crop of Sinai, Egypt and almost all desert environments. A tree so resistant that it has roots that reach up to 7 meters high in search of water and reach up to 20 meters high, its seed germinates with just a drop of water. There is a male and a female in a “Carm” which is the planting of trees around a spring or a well. After three years the seed of the male must be placed on the branches of the female, a process that is done manually. Now, after years of observing the successful fruiting of a tree the Bedouins have learned to cultivate this plant to its optimum. Its height indicates its age, much like the rings on a tree trunk. Coastal palms thrive on groundwater that comes from the mountains,

It is said in Islam that God gave mankind the palm tree for their sustenance. One date can fill your stomach throughout the day and provide most of the vitamins your body needs.

There are many different varieties of dates; the fruits of the palm tree, the ones with the best flavor, are usually irrigated with saltier water. In South Sinai, Oasis Firan produces the most dates from its 10,000 palm trees. The longer the fruit stays on the tree, the sweeter and larger it becomes, it also becomes softer and darker from the original red early in growth which is also bitter.

The best part of the palm tree is the heart, it produces a very expensive juice. In the Western Desert of Egypt, where there are about 1 million palm trees, health treatments include burying the body in the sand, after which the patient would be given this juice to accentuate the healing process. The leaves are used as shelter from the sweltering sun, especially in fishermen’s huts. Also the “skin” of the bark has been used to make ropes to tie camels and hold up tents. It was spun, much like wool, to produce a long, strong but somewhat brittle line.

The most common animal that uses the palm tree for shelter is the pigeon, similar to a common dove or pigeon, nests in the high branches. Camels used to be responsible for consuming the dead branches, but now it is done manually with a machete tool.


Since the beginning of time, plants have been used in the treatment of many diseases. The ancient Egyptians are known to have used plants in most of their daily life. Many of these plants can be found in Sinai, such as the Samwa plant. Only discovered in 1980, Samwa is a bush-like shrub that has pale flowers and yellow-green leaves. Its leaves are oval-shaped and covered with prickly hairs that end in oil glands. The Samwa secretes chemicals that soften rock or soil, allowing its roots to reach moisture below. They have spines that retain water and usually grow around a rock, forming a bouquet shape. It is very bitter and has a repulsive smell. The Samwa plant can grow up to 30 cm wide and live up to five years. Samwa has small black seeds, which stick to oily leaves that blow in the wind, dispersing them a short distance from the mother plant. Found only in low-lying coastal areas, Samwa grows 100 to 800 meters inland where they flower from March to May.

plant egypt samwa flora

The stems and leaves are dried in the sun and then crushed by hand, resulting in grass. Originally from Sinai, the dried Samwa herb is used by herbalists as a hypoglycemic agent and is believed by the Bedouin community to help treat diabetes, stomach ache, rubefacients, scabies, rheumatic fever, inflammation and inflammation. rashes. It has also been used as an antidote against snake and scorpion bites and wasp stings.

Although the Samwa plant is not poisonous, it could cause a possible allergic reaction, so it is advisable to always wash your hands after handling it. Also, due to its oily leaves, Samwa sticks firmly to materials, and is impossible to remove.

Fauna of Egypt

There was a time when Egypt had a cooler and wetter climate than it does today; ancient tomb paintings show giraffes, hippopotamuses, crocodiles and ostriches, and the Silwa Bahari petroglyphs on the upper Nile between Luxor and Aswan show elephants, white rhinos, gerenucos and more ostriches, a fauna similar to that of today’s Africa Oriental. The country also does not have many endemic species, which are limited to the Egyptian weasel, pale jerboa, Mackilligin’s jerboa (possibly extending into the Sudan), flower shrew, Nile Delta toad, and two butterflies, the blue of the staff of Sinai and the jebelia of the Satyrium.

The mammals of the Western Desert have dwindled over the years and the addax and scimitar oryx are no longer there, and the Atlas lion is probably gone too. Among the remaining mammals are the rim gazelle, the dorcas gazelle, the Barbary sheep, the Rüppell fox and the Egypt jerboa. Notable birds in this desert include the spotted sandgrouse, herring gull, and blond wheatear.

The Eastern Desert has quite a different range of fauna and has much in common with the Sinai Peninsula, demonstrating the importance of the wide Nile in separating the two desert regions. Here are the striped hyena, Nubian ibex, Egyptian ibex, Blanford’s fox and Rüppell’s fox. The desert prinia and the nubic wheatear are typical of this region. The high rocky mountains of Gebel Elba in the south have a distinctive range of animals including the African golden wolf, the common skunk and the common genet, and there may still be African wild asses in this area.

Birds are abundant in Egypt, especially in the Nile Valley and the Delta region. Birds of prey include vultures, eagles, falcons, falcons, and owls. Other large birds include storks, flamingos, herons, egrets, pelicans, quail, and orioles. Around four hundred and eighty species of birds have been recorded, of which those that are in danger of extinction worldwide are the red-necked goose, the white-headed duck, the Balearic shearwater, the Egyptian vulture, the Rüppell’s vulture, the sociable lapwing, the Slender Curlew, Saker Falcon and Golden-breasted Bunting. Egypt is located on an important bird migration route between Eurasia and East Africa, through which some two hundred species of migrants pass twice a year.

In Egypt there are about thirty species of snakes, of which half are poisonous. Among them are the Egyptian cobra, the false smooth snake and the horned viper. There are also numerous species of lizards. Above the Aswan Dam, the shores of Lake Nasser are largely barren, but the lake is home to the last remaining Nile crocodiles and African softshell turtles in Egypt.


Camels are the most famous animals in Egypt. For thousands of years the camel has been the method of transportation of choice in this part of the world and for good reason. The camel can travel for weeks without food or water, living off the fat and body fluids stored in its hump (the hump is also a very comfortable seat for the rider).

dromedary camel fauna egypt

There are two main types of camels: those with two humps and those with a single hump, which are called dromedaries. The most popular in Egypt is the dromedary. With the oddly shaped nostrils, camels can close them to keep sand out and minimize moisture loss.


Fennec (or desert foxes) are common animals in Egypt, they can be found all over Egypt, but mainly in desert areas, where they have evolved to adapt quite well to life. Their small bodies (the fennec fox is the smallest fox in the world) minimize the loss of body heat and water.

fennec desert fox

Their large eyes and ears allow them to see and hear both predator and prey very easily. Fennec foxes are often kept as pets, and if they are born and raised in captivity they can be quite tame.


The caracal (African lynx) is the largest of Egypt’s cats, although it is still much smaller than its jungle cousins. Its sandy brown color with dark ear tufts is its most distinguishing feature. The main prey of the lynx is birds. Its powerful legs and agile body give it the ability to leap into a flock of birds and kill them before they have a chance to react. Its front legs resemble the front legs of the Sphinx.

caracal african lynx


Weasels are found all over the world as they can adapt to any environment. Weasels will eat anything, and do devastating damage to domestic fowl such as chickens and ducks, eating the eggs and young chicks. For many Egyptians, the weasel is a major nuisance. They are often found living in the city, even in the walls of houses like mice, stealing food wherever they find it.


Arabian leopard

The Arabian leopard is critically endangered, probably long extinct on the Egyptian mainland, though it may still exist in the Sinai. There are a few in the Negev desert, but they have disappeared from the Hijaz mountains of Saudi Arabia just across the Gulf of Aqaba from Sinai.

arabian leopard

The difficult mountainous terrain and its exceptionally secretive and cautious nature make it very difficult to establish the existence of a breeding population. The last positive record in Sinai was in 1996, and the last definitive specimen in 1955 when one was shot on Mount Sinai.

Nubian ibex

The Nubian ibex is already in danger of extinction. This ibex is completely at home in the rugged rocky mountains of southern Sinai, being able to scale the steepest cliffs and traverse seemingly impossible paths. They used to live in groups of up to 40 animals, but now there are fewer than 10. In early February, the males use their huge horns to fight for access to mating females, rising to slam them into their opponent.

nubian ibex

The ibex has always been the Bedouin’s favorite meat and is vulnerable because it has to drink every day, unlike many other desert animals. The last time they were counted, there were about 400 in all of South Sinai. Fortunately, in recent years the population seems to be recovering, especially in the eastern desert.

Striped hyena

The striped hyena is not in danger, although it is rare, but it is widespread in Egypt and Sinai. They are scavengers and predators in general, eating a wide variety of different foods including garbage – one of the best places to see them is garbage dumps at night. St. Catherine’s Protectorate camera traps have photographed hyenas several times recently, and there is certainly a reasonable population of these interesting creatures in South Sinai.

striped hyena typical animal of egypt


South Sinai gazelles are very vulnerable. There are currently only two resident gazelle species in Egypt, both of which are vulnerable to extinction; only the dorcas gazelle is found in the Sinai. They live in sandy plains and wadis in the lowlands, with their stronghold in the El Qaa plain. The animals enter the wadis to feed and cross between East and West Sinai through the lower wadi systems to the south.


On the Egyptian mainland their main predators are usually cheetahs, but since their disappearance the gazelle’s main thread is now illegal sport hunting, often on a highly organized scale. Fortunately this rarely happens in the Sinai, but the gazelle population remains low and vulnerable. The dorca gazelle lives in pairs or small groups, feeding on many different types of plants. It also requires access to water.


The foxes are not in danger. All three species of Egyptian foxes are found in South Sinai and their screeches punctuate the stillness of evenings, often sounding like children screaming in pain. The common native species is the sand fox, smaller than the red fox, with proportionally larger ears and softer, paler fur.

blanford fox

The red fox has arrived with human settlement, and is now the most common species around Santa Catalina and the coastal towns, where it feeds on stray cats and chickens. The beautiful Blanford’s fox is small with very large ears and a huge long bushy tail like a cat’s. This species is very rare and is only found in eastern Sinai, just on the western edge of its global distribution, which reaches as far as Afghanistan.


Hare (they are usually called “rabbit” in Egypt). They are very common throughout Egypt, including the Sinai. They depend on staying hidden in a hole or under a plant until the last minute, and therefore usually the only sight of them is an animal speeding away from under their feet.

egyptian hieroglyph hare

They feed on plants such as zygophyllum at night, and if necessary can survive only on the water they drink with their food. They breed more in the lowlands because litter size decreases with altitude, and thus they are not as common in the mountains.


Hyraxes (hyracoids) are not at risk, they are peculiar animals in both the zoological and anthropological fields. They used to be considered the closest living relatives to elephants; it is now thought that elephants and dugongs are probably closest relatives, with hyraxes their next sister group.

hyracoid daman

There is a captive colony that can be seen at the end of Wadi Arbaein, near the town of Santa Catalina. Otherwise, damas can be difficult to see, because their colonies are irregular and remain motionless most of the time. They are ancient inhabitants of Egypt: the characteristic white spots on their faces can be seen on the rocks at Gabel Uweinat, in the southwestern corner of Egypt, where the animals have not lived for several thousand years.

Spiny mice

Spiny mice are not at risk. They are large golden colored mice with a set of extra thick hard hair (spines) on the front of their backs. We found 2 species in the Sinai. The golden spiny mouse (A. russatus) and the Sinai spiny mouse (A. dimidiatus). And one, the Cairo spiny mouse (A. cahirinus) is found throughout mainland Egypt, but not in Sinai.

spiny mouse

These mice are associated with Bedouin walled gardens, typically making their nests among the stones of the walls. They are rarely found far from the wadi bottom and away from gardens, where they feed on seeds and insects.

Eliomys melanurus

Eliomys melanurus is not endangered, this beautiful animal has dark rings around its eyes, which extend to its ears like a pair of glasses. It has a long tail with a bushy dark tip, large ears, and long, complex whiskers.

eliomys melanurus

Its distribution is small, from Libya to the Middle East, and therefore the Sinai populations are significant on a global scale. Found mainly away from Bedouin gardens on rocky slopes of wadis, where it feeds at night on plant material and insects. This animal is always much rarer in wadis than spiny mice, and not much is known about its biology.

Barbastella leucomelas

The Barbastella leucomelas is a small brown-black bat with relatively short broad ears attached at the forehead, with the ear tragus furry, triangular and more than half as long as the ear. This is the rarest of all Palearctic bats, with the smallest known distribution of any Palearctic bat. It was originally discovered in 1822 or 1826 by Ruppell of “Arabia Petraea”, now from detective work in travellers’ journals known to be from the Sinai, and possibly from the St Catherine’s monastery garden.

barbastella leucomelas bat

His two specimens were matched by only a handful from Israel until 2005, when Dr. Christian Dietz captured the species again in Egypt after 183 years. Subsequent surveys have recorded the species from various locations in southern Sinai, but numbers are clearly very low. Unlike other bets, this bat specializes almost exclusively on moths, especially moths with “ears” that listen for the bats’ echolocation calls. Therefore, most populations are likely to be critical for the survival of the Sinai barbastella leucomelas, making the installation of street lights on the highway to Santa Catalina particularly worrying.

Nile crocodile

The Nile crocodile is the second largest reptile in the world, second only to the saltwater crocodile. This predatory reptile can be found throughout the Nile River to the Nile Delta. It relies on fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, carcasses, and even humans if they get too close.

Nile crocodile

This reptile has adapted over time to become a deadly predator with thick armor to protect it, keen senses, and a powerful tail to propel itself through the water.

Desert locust

The desert locust is a subspecies of locust, and is known to be the most dangerous. They often feed on whatever crops they find and are known to be powerful flyers.

desert locust

It has several adaptations that have allowed it to live in the Desert Biome. For example, when they swarm, they secrete a toxin that makes them inedible. This allows them to move in large swarms and therefore have security in numbers.

Egyptian mongoose

These playful little creatures are common but little-known inhabitants of Egypt, ranging from the Mediterranean to the Sudanese border.

egyptian mongoose

They are diurnal land animals that nest in trees near water sources. They can be tamed, but their habits and disposition are poorly documented, so care should be taken if one is sighted.

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