Three giant river otter pups have been born in Argentina, much to the delight of conservationists working to save the species.
The particular breed of otter, formally known as Pteronura brasiliensis, was a species that was believed to be extinct. But thanks to rewilding efforts in the country’s wetlands, the three cubs were born in May in the Iberá National Park of north-east Argentina to parents Coco and Alondra, two giant river otters that were recently reintroduced to the wetlands.
The rewilding programme, Rewilding Argentina Foundation, marks the first attempt to return the giant river otter to a habitat in the Iberá wetlands of Northeast Argentina, one of South America’s largest and most important watersheds.
Conservationists believe that reintroducing the apex predator to the wetlands should create a significant impact on the structure of the ecosystem by controlling populations and balancing the food chain.
Talía Zamboni, a biologist for Rewilding Argentina, said: “These three cubs are the first that were born in our country in decades and represent the hope to recover a species in Argentina. The project being carried out in Iberá is the only one of its kind, never before has there been an attempt to return the giant otter to a place where it had disappeared due to manmade causes.”
The giant otter is the world’s largest otter, a top aquatic predator, that can measure up to 1.8 meters and weigh 33 kilos. It has not been seen for over 30 years in Argentina, where illegal hunting and habitat loss led to its decline.
Rewilding Argentina Foundation is reintroducing nine other species to the wetlands, including the jaguar, the top terrestrial predator, and the red-and-green macaw.
Iberá National Park was created in 2018 with land donations made by Douglas and Kristine Tompkins via Tompkins Conservation, in collaboration with Rewilding Argentina and local and national authorities.
Image: Coco and Alondra, Iberá Park/Matías Rebak
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living.