Orinoco River & Flooded Forests
About the Area
More than 1000 fish species are estimated to occur in the entire Orinoco basin, the majority of which may be endemic.
Local endemism is high, resulting from the diversity of aquatic habitats that include llanos (grassy plains), high-gradient mountain streams, white-sand flooded forests, and large river environments.
Among the numerous fish found here are a number of well-known game and aquarium species such as Peacock bass or Speckled pavon (Cichla temensis), Blackspot pirahna (Pygocentrus cariba), Cachama (Piaractus brachyponum), and Red oscar (Astronotus ocellatus).
These waters are also home to the critically endangered Orinoco crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius) and Giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), both of which suffer largely from hunting.
Threats include pollution, siltation from mining and deforestation, conversion for agriculture, livestock grazing, intensive logging, and hunting of sensitive larger vertebrates. Large dams and water diversions are planned for several major tributaries, and these would destroy the hydrologic processes that support this ecoregion's aquatic fauna.
983,000 sq. km (400,000 sq. miles)
Northern South America: Brazil, Columbia, and Venezuela
The Orinoco Crocodile! The males at one time reached lengths of 7 m, now due to overhunting of the larger specimens the average size 5 m. Females are generally smaller, reaching lengths of 3.2 m. Orinoco crocodiles are extremely rare; there are only between 250-700 left in the wild.