Manatees

About the Amazonian manatee

The Amazonian manatee was first described as a curious combination of a hippopotamus and a seal. It inhabits areas of the Amazon River, as well as its tributaries in Ecuador and northern Peru, where there are freshwater lagoons, oxbow lakes and blackwater lakes. The Amazonian manatee depends on abundant aquatic vegetation and waterways with connections to large rivers. They also favor calm, shallow waters, away from human settlements. The Amazonian manatee are solitary animals, except for females with offspring. Recent evidence suggests that manatees may possess a unique sixth sense that enables them to detect pressure changes through sensory hairs on their body.

Status and threats

The Amazonian manatee is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN RedList. Manatee meat is highly prized in the Amazon, so the greatest threat facing this species is illegal hunting for human consumption. It is also threatened by habitat degradation and incidental mortality (particularly of calves) in fishing gear. According to the IUCN, there are no reliable population estimates for this species, although numbers are almost certainly lower than historical figures due to centuries of hunting.