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GIANT OTTER PROJECT 2014

                             
         


In 2014 a total of 49 giant otters were recorded and identified in the Park, 33 within the area we monitor year-round, and the rest on sampling expeditions to other sectors of the park.  We estimate the park’s total population to be at least four times larger, possibly one of the world’s largest populations of the species. This year there were four resident groups in the 20 lakes we monitor and protect intensively, and they had a total of six cubs.


2014´s observations seem to confirm a pattern seen since 2010: years with few or no births alternate with years of multiple successful litters.  In Cantão, cub survival during the first year is unusually high for giant otters.  So far, of the 16 cubs born within the research area since 2010, only one disappeared during its first year, a mortality rate of just over 6%.


As in previous years, we recorded extensive den-sharing and territorial overlap between groups, as well as occasional excursions by groups to lakes far beyond their usual range.  We also recorded three instances of adult animals changing groups.  This is changing our previous understanding of the social behavior of this amazing species.


We also documented the intense stress caused on breeding groups of otters by the mere approach of poachers’ boats.  During expeditions to sectors of the park where poaching is more common we found otters to be much more wary around people.  This demonstrates the importance of sanctuaries, free from fishing and boating, in order to adequately protect a breeding population of giant otters.

 
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