The Pantanal: Earthly Paradise


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Helen Waldermarin
Author, researcher, otter specialist

I'm work in Pantanal, in Brazil, in Central West Brazil. And I'm studying otters, giant otters and neo-tropical otters in Pantanal. We have thirteen otter species in the world, and in Brazil we have these two species: the giant and neo-tropical.
The difference between giant and neo-tropical otters -- the giant otters are bigger, longer. They are social animals; they live in familiar groups. And the neo-tropical otters are smaller, and they are solitary animals. They live themselves, only are together during the reproductive time.
I have two main issues in the project. One of them is we are studying how the neotropical and the giant otters can live together in this area without have a direct competition. So they are using the same resources, they are using the same area, they are similar animals, and how they are not competing in the area. Another one is to try to understand the habitat requirements and the general requirements of giant otters – they are a threatened species. And, uh, especially, um, what they need to live and to have a healthy population in an area, and they try to use this data for tourism management in Pantanal.
Ecotourism in Pantanal is increasing a lot, and the experience in some areas, outside Brazil especially in Peruvian Amazon, they found that the otters can be disrupted. The behavior can be disrupted. So the idea is have a good, a good tourism that will not disrupt the giant otters' activities.
I guess the first thing is that we don't know almost anything about these animals, and so to learn about the animals, the wildlife that we have. And besides this, considering that they are top predators, they are very important to maintain the biodiversity and the aquatic environment and the environment as general.