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Amazon River dolphin or Boto. Image: Dr Fernando Trujilo

WDC protecting endangered botos

Did you know that some of the dolphins live hundreds of miles from the ocean?  Amazon River dolphins or ‘botos’ do not live in the sea, they live in freshwater rivers, lakes, and flooded rainforests of the Amazon in South America.

Botos are endangered because human activities have reduced their numbers. These include hunting, fishing, mining, logging, dam building, and climate change.

WDC is funding boto protection projects in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru. We are working with Indigenous families who live in the rainforest alongside botos.

In Colombia, WDC is helping families become boto protectors. Puerto Nariño is a small town in Colombia on the banks of the Amazon River. Families living here support themselves partly by fishing, growing crops in jungle gardens and small-scale hunting. Some of them are part of an inspiring community conservation and education project called Natütama which means ‘everything under the water’. Natütama’s Centre has displays about the secret underwater lives of river dolphins, manatees, caiman alligators, giant otters, turtles, anacondas (water snakes), and giant freshwater fish.

WDC funds Natütama’s educators to visit school classes and eco-clubs for children at the weekends, and they also work in remote villages outside the town. Natütama is spreading the word about the importance of protecting botos and other endangered wildlife to ensure healthy environments for wildlife and local people.

Everybody loves the annual Natütama carnival celebrations. Children make masks and costumes for the procession and enjoy puppet shows, dancing, games and storytelling.

Boto fact file:

Names:  Amazon River dolphin; Bufeo; Omacha; Bolivian river dolphin; Pink river dolphin.

Size: Up to 2.8m

Weight: Up to 207kg

Status:  Endangered

Lifespan: over 35 years

Reproduction: slow - only one baby every few years.

What do they look like? bright pink to greyish-pink, long narrow snout with about 106 teeth, bulging head, chubby cheeks, bendy neck and body, long ridge-like dorsal fin, and large, rotatable flippers.

What do they eat? Over 40 species of fish, shrimps, crabs, and turtles.

Where do botos live? Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

Botos (Amazon River dolphins) live in South America

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