10 Watery Wetland Facts about the Pantanal

Maddi Higgins October 22, 2014 3
Aerial view of the Pantanal in Brazil. Photo (c) Juan Pratginestos/WWF-Canon

Aerial view of the Pantanal in Brazil. © Juan Pratginestos/WWF-Canon

The Pantanal is the largest wetland in South America, and the largest wetland in the world that has not been substantially modified by humans. The sheer abundance of large birds, reptiles and mammals mark its importance as a huge reservoir of biodiversity. Here are 11 facts about these wondrous wetlands:

Fact #1

The Pantanal covers an area of 66,100 square miles—that’s 10 times the size of Florida’s Everglades.

Fact #2

Sediment cores suggest that 13,000-23,000 years ago, the Pantanal was covered by sandy desert.

Fact #3

The name “Pantanal” comes from the Portuguese word “pântano,” meaning wetland, bog, swamp or marsh.

Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil

The name “Pantanal” comes from the Portuguese word “pântano,” meaning wetland, bog, swamp or marsh. © Edward Parker/WWF-Canon

Fact #4

Average yearly rainfall in the Pantanal reaches up to 40 to 55 inches. Seventy-eight percent of the Pantanal is submerged during the rainy seasons.

Fact #5

The Pantanal is home to about 3,500 plant species, 656 bird species, 325 fish species, 159 mammals, 53 amphibian and 98 reptiles.

© R. Isotti, A. Cambone/Homo Ambiens/WWF-Canon

The Pantanal is home to about 656 bird species. © R. Isotti, A. Cambone/Homo Ambiens/WWF-Canon

Fact #6

The Pantanal Conservation area—a group of four protected areas in the Pantanal—was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its ecological significance.

Fact #7

While the Pantanal is considered one of the most preserved wetlands in the world, less than 2% of the Pantanal wetlands is under government protection.

Fact #8

The Pantanal is threatened by expanding human settlement, unsustainable farming practices, illegal mining, hydroelectric power plant construction and unregulated tourism. WWF is working with ranchers in Brazil to reduce deforestation and its negative impacts.
WWF named the Pantanal one of its “Global 200,” a list of the most outstanding and representative areas of biodiversity.

© ZAPA/Natural Habitat Adventures

Less than 2% of the Pantanal wetlands is under government protection. © ZAPA/Natural Habitat Adventures

Fact #9

A 2012 report from WWF-UK found that the Pantanal wetlands attract nearly one million tourists every year, making ecotourism more profitable to community members than the use of land for livestock and crops.

Fact #10

WWF partners with the Nature Conservancy, UNESCO and IBAMA—a Brazilian environmental agency—to conserve Natural World Heritage Sites in the Pantanal.

Travel to the Pantanal in Brazil with NatHab and WWF.

3 Comments »

  1. Blop January 15, 2016 at 11:27 am - Reply

    This is an amazing web! Really helped with my report!

  2. Daniella Garzaniti November 19, 2015 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    Hi

    The website said 11 facts but there were only 10 facts?

    • Emily Deemer December 23, 2015 at 4:57 pm - Reply

      You are right! We just changed the title to 10. Thanks for catching that!

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