Animals of the Amazon. No other place on Earth showcases the diversity of life like the Amazon. It is a vast region spanning across eight countries, which is home to one in ten of all known animals and contains the largest river basin on Earth. Spanning an area twice the size of India, this biome is unrivalled in scale, complexity and opportunity. To find out more about this incredible place, read below!
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The Amazon is an incredibly vast region that spans across eight rapidly developing countries in South America: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, and it has the most biodiversity. The Amazon River is 6,600 km long, with over 900 species of freshwater fish. These are examples of how important biodiversity is to our lives: one species could be the solution to a biological challenge that would generate benefits for people all over the world.
Why is the Amazon important?
The Amazon rainforest has long been recognized as a repository of ecological services not only for local people and communities, but also for the rest of the world. The rainforests, which contain 90-140 billion metric tons of carbon, help stabilize local and global climate.
Deforestation may release significant amounts of this carbon, which could have catastrophic consequences around the world. For millennia, humans have used insects, plants and other organisms in the Amazon region for a variety of uses such as agriculture, clothing and of course curing diseases.
The natural roots of medicine you find in your pharmacy can be traced back to the biodiversity in the Amazon. Indigenous people such as the Yanomamo and other groups with mixed heritage (e.g. caboclos from Brazil or mestizos from Peru) have perfected the use of chemical compounds found in plants and animals. Knowledge about these plants is usually held by a medicine man (shaman), who passes it on to an apprentice (sometimes his son). This process has been going on since centuries and forms an integral part of people’s identity.
Culture of the Amazon
According to COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin), about 9% (2.7 million) of the population in the Amazon is indigenous people. This means there are 350 different ethnic groups and over 60 that remain isolated. The largest tribe in the Amazon is Guarani, numbering 51,000 people, but they have very little land left – during the past 100 years almost all of it has been stolen from them and turned into vast, dry networks of cattle ranches, soya fields, and sugar cane plantations.
The people with the largest territory are relatively isolated Yanomami who occupy 9.4 million hectares in the northern Amazon within Brazil. The smallest tribe consists only of one man who lives in a small patch surrounded by cattle ranches and soya plantations in the western Amazon and eludes contact efforts.
While not as large as Brazil’s – other countries containing tropical rainforests such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Guyana’setc., also consist of indigenous communities with deep knowledge of rainforest species used for food textiles and traditional medicine purposes such as plants
The Amazon biome is currently facing degradation due to major changes in climate and the hydrological cycle, with the risk of wildfires on the rise. The rainforest was once almost fireproof, but over recent decades it has become increasingly dryer as a result of extreme weather events like droughts, heat and floods.
Researchers suggest that this could be caused by increasingly poor conditions for the biome brought about by deforestation and worsening climate change. Deforestation would not only affect the biodiversity of this biome, but also its indigenous and traditional peoples who rely on it for their livelihoods. This could exacerbate our current global catastrophe.
Animals of the Amazon
The Amazon rainforest is a resourceful jungle with a dazzling array of fascinating animals. In all, scientists estimate that there are more than 2,000 species of birds and mammals here, more than 2,000 species of fish, 400 amphibians and nearly 500 reptiles. If you’re into animal spotting, you couldn’t pick a better place to visit!
1. Three-toed sloths
Sloths don’t like to do anything quickly- including going down from the treetops of the Amazon Rainforest. These adorable animals are so slow that algae grows on their fur, which helps them blend in and hide from predators. During the daytime, sloths stay up in the trees and eat leaves, fruit, shoots and many other fruits. They sleep during the night, but they sometimes go out to eat as well.
Where can you go to spot a three-toed sloth?
The Tambopata National Reserve is home to 632 species of birds, 1200 butterfly species, 103 amphibian species, 180 fish species, 103 reptile species and 169 mammal species. The reserve’s lakes and forests provide the perfect habitat for many endangered amazon animals. In particular are the three-toed sloth which can be seen if you’re lucky!
If you have a guide with experience spotting them and a sharp eye for details, there should be no problem locating one during your trips. What’s even better is that you never know when you’ll find one so you’ll be able to take your time photographing it once it’s been spotted!
2. Giant river otters
The Amazon is the home of the world’s largest otter. The Giant River Otter can grow up to 1,5 meters in length and lives in Central and South America. One of the most endangered animals on the Amazon (due to overzealous hunting), this rare sight can be found on a river cruise in Peru. Tambopata is one of the only places in the world where this fantastic creature can be seen.
Where can you go to spot a Giant River Otter?
If you have always wanted to have the chance to see Giant River Otters, your chance is at Tres Chimbadas Lake. This location is close to the Rainforest Expeditions’ lodges and is home to these animals. When you visit the oxbow lakes near Rainforest Expeditions lodges, you’ll get an unmatched opportunity to view every creature. After all, our guides are cautious and dedicated, ensuring you a peaceful habitat for these beautiful animals that might be shy.
3. Black Caiman
The Black Caiman is the largest predator in the Amazon Basin and are known for their black, scaly skin. They are usually found in the slow-moving rivers and lakes in the Amazon region as well as the floodplains of the Amazon Rainforest. They mostly hunt at night when their dark appearance matches that of both sky and water, making it virtually invisible from predators. It mostly preys on catfish, piranha, birds, turtles, and capybaras but some can grow large enough to kill tapirs, anacondas, jaguars, pumas and even humans!
Where can you go to spot a Black Caiman in the wild?
Cruise companies are one of the best operators to contact if you want to have a black caiman visit with you on the boat!
The Capybara is the world’s largest rodent. It’s cuter than expected at up to 50 kilograms when fully grown and its name comes from Tupi people who lived near Brazil’s coast. That’s because the Capybara can eat 8 pounds of grass per day. Its natural predators are jaguars, anacondas and caimans – though nowadays it’s humans who pose the biggest risk as the capybara’s skin and meat are commercially traded.
Where can you go to spot the Capybara?
Three out of every four visitors to Rainforest Expeditions will see the world’s largest rodent, the capybara! Traveling along the Tambopata River on your way to these lodges, you’ll experience one of the most biodiverse places in the entire world: The Amazon rainforest. Along with an array of wildlife on the riverbanks that you might spot, this enormous animal is one of the most commonly seen at Rainforest Expeditions.
Summary on Animals in the Amazon
Many people visit the Amazon Rainforest with the hope of seeing Jaguars, Anacondas, and Otters. The truth is that animals often disguise themselves to protect themselves from predators in the Amazon. To spot any wildlife you need to be very quiet and patient. One must remain calm and take in the beauty and magic of the ecosystem itself. What is certain is that one will see elements of the natural world that will never be forgotten.
We have listed 8 Top Amazona Animals to encounter, as well as the best operators to find them. The Amazon has been scientifically determined as one of seventeen “mega-biodiverse” hotspots within our planet’s existing terrestrial pattern, but it is impacted by deforestation, pollution, hunting and mining. Your choice of which tourism operator you support has an impact on these expiring habitats.