Pantanal – The Largest Wetland In The World

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The name “Pantanal” can be accurately translated into “swamp” or “big marshland” from Portuguese. Located about 80% in Brazil, 10% in Bolivia and another 10% in Paraguay, this 210,000 sq. km. (81,000 sq. mi.) wetland is the largest in the world. It’s even larger than the famous Okovango Delta in Botswana or the Sudd swampland in Sudan. The Okefenokee in the United States doesn’t even come close to this one.

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Even if the average rainfall is not that big, the majority of water here comes from the outflow of the Rio Paraguay, from the central Brazilian plateau. This huge flooded plain folds some of the largest numbers of wildlife in the world, competing with East Africa in terms of the number of birds, mammals and reptiles, many of which reach extraordinary sizes. The jaguars living here for example are twice the size of those in the Amazon. We can also find the largest otters in the world, rodents (the Capybara), Jabiru storks and Hyacinth macaws (largest parrots).

Jaguar in the Pantanal

There are also a lot of fresh water turtles as well as some pumas and other smaller felines. A lot of deer call the Pantanal their home, as well as the Paraguayan caiman. This crocodilian reptile is so widespread here that over 3000 were discovered in a surface area of just one hectare.

Out of all the 3500 species of plant, 129 species of mammals, 177 reptiles, 650 species of birds, only 15 species of fish out of 325 are native to the Pantanal, while the rest can be found in the surrounding ecosystems. This fact doesn’t diminish the amazing and serene beauty of this place in the slightest. Luckily, despite the many years of intensive cattle grazing, over 80% of the Pantanal is still intact.

Capybara in Pantanal
Capybara in Pantanal

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 Foto: Werner Zotz.
Foto: Werner Zotz.

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Southern Crested Caracara
Southern Crested Caracara

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