It had been a while. Too long. But great to see once again:
Conservationists thrilled at the sighting of the wild predator, last seen in the country in the 1980s
“It was a huge surprise,” said Sebastián Di Martino, director of conservation at Fundación Rewilding Argentina. “I was incredulous. An incredible feeling of so much happiness. I didn’t know if I should try to follow it or rush back to our station to tell the others.”
The cause of the excitement was the sighting, last week, of a wild giant river otter – an animal feared extinct in the country due to habitat loss and hunting – on the Bermejo River in Impenetrable national park, in north-east Argentina’s Chaco province. The last sighting of a giant otter in the wild in Argentina was in the 1980s. On the Bermejo, none have been seen for more than a century.
Di Martino captured the otter on his phone while kayaking. “It reared up, so its white chest was visible, which I recognised as the giant river otter [Pteronura brasiliensis]. At this point, your legs go weak and your heart starts beating faster.”
There are two possible explanations for the otter’s return. “The closest known populations of giant otter, which is endangered globally, are in the Paraguayan Pantanal, which could connect with this river from a distance of over 1,000km. That’s the simplest explanation,” said Di Martino. “The other possibility is that there’s a remnant population of the species in Argentina that’s gone undetected. These animals live in family groups, and this was a solitary individual, which we think came from a group.”…
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