Pantanal has the greatest concentration of fauna in the Americas.
People outside Brazil know only the Amazon. . . it's a shame because the
Pantanal is a very important ecological place.1
Maria Tereza Jorge Pádua,
Director, Brazil's National Parks
the center of the South American continent, south of the Amazon basin and
east of the Andes, lies an immense landlocked river delta where annual
floodwaters regularly rise several meters and then recede. For the
abundant and diverse plants and animals living there, the flood pulse in
normal and life giving.
Pantanal is one of our planet's most spectacular wetland systems.
The following information on this region is exerpted from "The Pantanal
in the 21st Century: For the World's Largest Wetland, an Uncertain Future,"
by Frederick A. Swarts, which serves as the introduction to the book The
Pantanal of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay (Hudson MacArthur 2000).
This edited volume is a select collection of papers presented at the first
and second World Conference on Preservation and Sustainable Development
in the Pantanal.
Pantanal of South America is one of the most immense, pristine and biologically
rich environments on the planet. Often referred to as the world’s largest
freshwater wetland system, it extends through millions of hectares of central-western
Brazil, eastern Bolivia and eastern Paraguay. With its extraordinarily
concentrated and diverse flora and fauna, and a landscape spanning a variety
of ecological sub-regions, the Pantanal stands as one of the world’s great
area is an unparalleled wildlife sanctuary of spectacular beauty, an ecological
paradise containing hundreds of species of birds, thousands of varieties
of butterflies, myriads of brightly colored flowers, and shoals of fish.
Capuchin and Howler monkeys, capybaras, toucans, anacondas, caimans and
tapirs help create an aquatic and sylvan theater of sights and sounds.
The endangered jaguar, and increasingly rare Hyacinthine macaws and giant
river otters, all make their home in the Pantanal. The Pantanal also provides
incalculable economic benefits. It offers a huge area for water purification
and groundwater discharge and recharge, climate stabilization, water supply,
flood abatement, and an extensive, transport system, among numerous other
important functions. And yet, despite the region’s beauty and remarkable
environmental and economic value, the Pantanal remains poorly known and
faces an uncertain future stemming from a myriad of socioeconomic pressures.
The Florida Everglades is a stark reminder of how quickly even a major
wetland system can experience devastating ecological and economic consequences
when there are poor management responses to such pressures. The Everglades
system declined catastrophically in just 50 years. While the Pantanal remains
comparatively untouched, without correct understanding, timely action and
wise management, its future could be seriously compromised.
have an attitude problem here. People watching television learn to care
more for elephants or lions than the jaguar or giant river otter... they
like Africa better than Brazil.2
Banks, The Pantanal: Brazil's Forgotten Wilderness
Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1991).
V. Banks, Ibid., p. 177.