A threatened paradise – invasive species on Themyscira



Themyscira or Paradise Island is an enigmatic place in the Eastern Mediterranean, best known as the homeland of the Amazons. As a highly isolated piece of land, it was hard to believe that the indigenous biodiversity of the island could be threatened by invasive species. However, the multiple expeditions to distant places, undertaken by the Amazons brought back to the island a range of different animals, some of which proved to be invasive and a serious threat to the local biodiversity.


Situated somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean, the island of Themyscira is constantly encircled by a magic barrier. Its main purpose is to keep the island safe from intruders, but also to prevent the movement of animals to and out of it. Thus, when first discovered, it looked like a perfectly preserved habitat, representative of the Greek Island flora and fauna more than 2000 years before the birth of Christ.

Unfortunately, it soon appeared that the indigenous tribes of the island, the Amazons are prolific sailors and traveled multiple times to distant continents such as South America and even Australia long before they are known to the Western World. Evidence of cultural exchange is available in historic records – the Amazon warriors in the Amazon jungle and the Dahomey Amazons in Africa but is also evident from the racial profile of the Amazons in Themyscira where warriors of African descent are not an exception.

Because of curiosity, or as gifts for relatives or the queen herself, these expeditions also introduced to Themyscira numerous alien species. Some of them were unsuccessful in their adaptation, while others thrived very well, became invasive, and significantly altered the original biodiversity of the island. Despite this, they shaped new biodiversity, which is unique and recently considered a protected natural habitat.

 Introduced species


The most peculiar species on the island is also the iconic animal, but a non-native species. The kanga first arrived on Themyscira after an expedition to the distant and yet undiscovered by humans continent of Australia. Initially, the Amazons brought two pairs (possibly of the grey kangaroo) and let them roam freely around. Soon they propagate and formed a stable population (Fig. 1). The lack of natural enemies along with plenty of food affected them and they gradually grew larger and larger, a process known as insular gigantism. While their ancestors (Macropus giganteus) reaches nearly 70 kg and almost 2 m tall, the new species (Macropus mediterraneum) grows up to 3 m and 150 kg.

Figure 1. Distribution of Macropus mediterraneum (grey spots) on the island of Themyscira.

The new species, however, soon became a serious problem as it easily outcompeted the native grazers and virtually destroyed most of the grass ecosystems. As they grew bigger, they started to eat the leaves of the olive trees and other short trees. Eventually, the Amazons purposely reduced the population by over 80%. The rest of the kangas were occasionally used as domesticated riding animals and a small population was left in the wild, although frequently controlled in number.     


The European fallow deer (Dama dama) is a popular game animal, widely distributed on the island (Fig. 2). It is not, however, a native species. It was first introduced from the continent in historic times and successfully bred in the absence of large predators. Although in direct competition with the kangas and frequently hunted by the amazons, its population is stable over time and proved to have a negative impact on the unique vegetation along the coastline.

Figure 2. Distribution of European fallow deer (grey spots) on the island of Themyscira.


Often seen to cross the streets and bury in holes, the six-banded armadillo (Euphractus sexcinctus) is a common sight on Themyscira (Fig. 3). The first specimens were brought from South America as a gift to the Amazon queen and found a fruitful environment to establish. Being carnivore-omnivores, they soon started to cause crop damages (on-site and in storage houses) and outcompeted hedgehogs and rats (even sometimes preying on rats and other rodents). Therefore, it is not surprising that they were soon referred to as the “rats of Themyscira”. Being prominent swimmers, a small population evolved into a new subspecies (Euphractus sexcinctus subsp. conchilovorum). These little critters learned that the coastal area offers plenty of food and started to feed predominantly on shellfishes, crabs, and eggs of seabirds, often swimming and diving between the rocks in shallow water.   

Figure 3. Distribution of armadillo on the island of Themyscira. The subsp. conchilovorum is shown in light-grey spots.

Wild boar

Another favorite game animal, the wild boar (Sus scrofa) was introduced about the same time as fallow deer and established a vital population on the island (Fig. 4). The negative impact of boars, however, is even larger than fallow deer as they feed on whatever is available and cause significant damage to both wildlife and crops.

Negative impact on wildlife

Similar to any other isolated island, Themyscira was characterized by unique biodiversity, previously not threatened by large carnivores or scavengers. Both the flora and fauna evolved into subspecies of common Mediterranean species and the island was also an important breeding site for many migrating birds.

The enlisted introduced species benefited from the lack of large predators and changed the ecosystem by directly eating or competing with native species. The boars and armadillos caused a significant decline in the number of ground-nesting birds, while kangas and fallow deer caused damage to the vegetation. It is hard to estimate, but the combined impact of all four species lead to the extinction or endangerment of at least 20% of the island’s native inhabitants. On the other hand, they became part of the unique biodiversity of Themyscira and it is hard to imagine the island without them.   

  1. Marston, W.M.  (1941 -) Wonder Woman, DC Comics
  2. DC Films (2013- ) DC Extended Universe, Warner Bros.


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