An integrated approach towards giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) conservation in Bolivia
Paul Van Damme
The giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is one of the most endangered mammal species in the Neotropical region and one of four endangered otter species in the world. The project aims to contribute to the conservation of the giant otter in the lowlands of Bolivia through generating reliable and standardized data on its’ distribution and population status. It will describe the giant otters habitat requirements, study its interaction with commercial/subsistence fisheries, set up a national awareness-raising and educational program focusing on giant otter conservation and set up a fund-raising and supporting program to give continuity to giant otter conservation. In Bolivia, this project probably represents one of the first attempts to focus on an endangered species in all of the national territory, and it may be the first time that a national survey is organized for a mammal species. Population numbers were greatly reduced in the past through hunting for the pelt trade, and nowadays habitat destruction and fragmentation are the major threats. The giant otter is considered the perfect flagship species for conservation and has the potential to inspire active interest in conservation among local and external stakeholders.