Giant Brasilian Otter : Conservation
Giant otters have been illegally poached for a long time for their hides, and especially in the 1950's and 60's this led to a fragmentation of their population. Now the main threat is habitat destruction, with vast amounts of rainforest being transformed into farmland and the pristine forest rivers becoming polluted and no longer suitable habitat.
It has been estimated that there are less than 5,000 giant otters left in the wild, and habitat destruction is predicted to reduce this by half over the next 20 years. Another worry is that there are only 60 or so captive giant otters in the world, making reintroduction programmes difficult.
Tourists to the rescue
In the Pantanal wetland of Brazil a reduction in hunting and more protection of the environment for tourism value has led to a recolonisation by giant otters, and the population there is stronger now than it was.
Indeed, eco-tourism is seen as the best way of conserving giant otters, because they are large, impressive animals and in some select places it has been possible to arrange consistently reliable close-up viewing. So giant otters could be for the Amazon what lions are for Africa! There is a list here of places to see giant otters in the Amazon.