The giant otter ranges across north-central South America. It lives mostly in and along the Amazon River and in the Pantanal. The species was listed as endangered in 1999 and wild population estimates are typically below 5,000. Habitat degradation and loss is the greatest current threat.
About Giant otter in brief
The giant otter ranges across north-central South America. It lives mostly in and along the Amazon River and in the Pantanal. Decades of poaching for its velvety pelt, peaking in the 1950s and 1960s, considerably diminished population numbers. The species was listed as endangered in 1999 and wild population estimates are typically below 5,000. It is one of the most endangered mammal species in the neotropics. Habitat degradation and loss is the greatest current threat. The giant otters form the subfamily Lutrinae within the mustelids and the giant Otter is the only member of the genus Pteronura. In Brazil it is known as ariranha, from the Tupí word ari’raña, meaning water jaguar. In Spanish, river wolf and water dog are used occasionally and may have been more common in the reports of explorers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. All three names are in use in South America, with a number of regional variations. An extinct genus, Satherium, is believed to be present in the New World during the Pliocene or early Pleistocene. It shares the South American continent with three members of the New otter genus, Latherium. It has a variety of adaptations suitable to an amphibious lifestyle, including exceptionally dense fur, a wing-like tail, and webbed feet. It subsists almost exclusively on a diet of fish, particularly characins and catfish, but may also eat crabs, turtles, snakes and small caiman.
It prefers freshwater rivers and streams, which are usually seasonally flooded, and may also take to freshwater lakes and springs. It constructs extensive campsites close to feeding areas, clearing large amounts of vegetation. In 2003, only 60 animals were being held. in captivity; in 2003,Only 60 animals are being held in captivity, in 2003. Incorrect descriptions of the species have led to multiple synonyms. P. b. brasiliensis and P. b. paraguensis are currently recognized by the canonical Mammal Species of the World. The World Conservation Union considers the species’ presence in Argentina and Uruguay uncertain. In the former two cases, investigation has shown thinly distributed population remnants, with different morphology with different gregory dentition and skull. P. b. baguensis has been suggested in Paraguay, Uruguay, southern Brazil, and northern Argentina, although it may be extinct in the last three of these four. It is supposedly smaller and more gregarious, with smaller and smaller skull and dentition, but this has been rejected once, noting the subspecific division had only been validated in 1968, and the type specimen was similar to P b iliensis. The group is territorial, and aggression has been observed between groups. Although generally peaceful, the species is territorial,. The species is diurnal, being active exclusively during daylight hours.