As in Africa, the zone of moist equatorial forests lies on both sides of the equator on the Amazonian lowland. These forests in South America are called selva, which in Portuguese means “forest”. In the jungle, higher humidity, compared to the African forests, there are more species of plants and animals. However, the equatorial forests of both continents have similar features: they are evergreen and multilevel.
Trees grow on red-yellow ferralite soils. Here there are about 40 thousand species of plants, which form more than ten tiers. Especially a lot of lianas, creeping along the ground and intertwining trees, as well as wonderfully flowering orchids. Some of the trees reach a height of 80-100 m. In the jungle there are such valuable trees as hevea, of which natural rubber is obtained: a cinchona tree used for the production of medicines; cocoa, the fruits of which serve as raw materials for making chocolate. Here, too, grow a melon tree, pineapple and banana. There are also such exotic plants as heavy iron and light waltz trees, as well as puiseiro-plant, which, settling on another tree, eventually suffocates it, twisting it like ropes.
The animal world is rich in selva. This is the real realm of insects and spiders. Every year, scientists are discovering more and more of their kinds. Here insects reach large sizes. On the trees live numerous monkeys. But they are more primitive, in comparison with the African ones. There are no apes at all. The sloths hang almost motionless on the branches. There are poisonous lizards and frogs. “Mistress” selva is an anaconda – the longest snake in the world. It reaches a length of 11 m and a mass of 200 kg. A giant snake can catch even the caiman, clutching it with the loops of its body, and swallow it whole. The only enemy of the anaconda is the jaguar.
In the forest there are many birds – parrots, toucans, large predatory harpies, tiny hummingbirds. Birds from here do not fly away. A sedentary lifestyle influenced the body structure of the Amazonian birds: their tails and wings are short. Birds fly slowly and for short distances. Amazes a huge number of parrots.
The natural conditions of the Amazonian forests are very complex and unaccustomed to Europeans. Tropical fever, poisonous insects and snakes, swamps, crocodiles, piranhas, other predators create many dangers for humans. Only the indigenous tribes of the Indians feel confident here. Amazonian selva suffers from human activity. In the forest, valuable timber is mined, hunting, fishing, and collecting hevea juice for making rubber. Large areas of forests destroyed due to plowing and construction.