GIANT OTTER PROJECT RESULTS FOR 2010-2011


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CLICK HERE TO SEE PROJECT RESULTS FOR  2012

In 2010, the Instituto Araguaia started a program to protect and monitor the giant otters, and to use them as an umbrella and flagship species for the conservation of the Cantão ecosystem.   The monitoring was initially focused on a set of one large and several smaller lakes in the vincinity of the research station, which is a typical sample of the Cantão ecosystem – at least 30 similar groups of lakes exist in the park.  Otters were identified by filming their throat markings. By using a canoe with an electric motor it was possible to find and follow them during all seasons, including the peak of the flood, when nearly the entire park is submerged by up to seven meters of water.  It was confirmed that resident groups remain stable and use the same territory all year.   

By the end of the 2010 dry season, 17 adult individuals had been identified by throat patch in the area, in four groups composed respectively of 7, 4, 3, and 3 adults.  No cubs were observed during this season.  In 2011, 17 individuals were again identified, 6 of which were new to the survey and 11 of which had been first seen the previous year.  Thirteen of the otters were formed into four groups, respectively with 6, 3, 2 and 2 adults, while three animals were solitary, but were seen repeatedly in the study site over a period of months.  The group of six, which was composed of five members of the group of 7 seen in 2010 plus a new male, which had joined the group, had a single cub, which first emerged from the den at the end of October.  The total number of animals at the end of the season was 18.

The methodology employed during 2010 and 2011 is intended to be a permanent monitoring program.  It has proven to be adequate for the complex environment of Cantão, where crisscrossing chains of oxbow lakes make traditional survey approaches impractical.  The next steps will be to expand the study area in order to determine the territorial boundaries of each otter group, and to perform a survey over a broader zone as a first step to estimate the total population of giant otters in the park.  Additionally, records on poaching incidents and illegal invasions of the park show that the presence of researchers may result in a marked reduction of these threats in the study area.  Thus, the expansion of the area under permanent monitoring will establishe a sanctuary where this endangered species can thrive unmolested, and will result in improved protection for the entire ecosystem that supports it.



CLICK HERE TO SEE PROJECT RESULTS FOR  2013

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CLICK HERE TO SEE PROJECT RESULTS FOR  2014