The Pantanal is one of the largest and best preserved wetlands in the world, covering a total area of 150,000km2. Its complex system of marshlands, floodplains, lagoons and interconnected drainage lines is home to over 658 species of birds, 190 mammals, 50 reptiles, 270 fish species and a truly outstanding 1,132 species of butterflies.
This place definitely has a certain je ne sais quoi! The Camargue encompasses the Rhone River delta in the southeast of France. Approximately a third of the Camargue is either lakes or marshland. It is one of the best places in Europe for bird watching. Its brine ponds provide one of the few European habitats for the greater flamingo. It is also famous for the Camargue bull and the Camargue horse.
Wasur National Park is a massive wetland region in the Indonesian province of Papua, on the island of New Guinea. Dubbed the Serengeti of Papua owing to its incredible biodiversity, Wasur National Park plays host to a large number of rare animals and birds, especially around Rawa Biru Lake. There are many water fowl species and migrant birds here along with cassowaries and wallabies. Unfortunately the park natural flooded grassland systems are threatened by the invasion of alien species such as water hyacinth and mimosa pigra.
Kakadu National Park is a diverse park about half the size of Switzerland located in the Northern Territory of Australia. The freshwater and saltwater crocodiles sleep on the banks of the many rivers and billabongs for most of the day but can also be seen floating or swimming in the water. One of Kakadu’s best known landmarks is the Yellow Water billabong. Located near the small settlement of Cooinda, Yellow Water is home to crocodiles, wild horses, buffalo and other wildlife. The billabong, which floods to join other waterways during the tropical season, also attracts millions of migratory birds each year.
The Kerala backwaters are a chain of lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast in the Kerala state in southern India. The network includes five large lakes linked by canals, fed by 38 rivers. The backwaters are home to many unique species of aquatic life including crabs, frogs water birds and animals such as otters and turtles. The area is becoming a popular tourist destination with several large Kettuvallams (traditional rice boats now converted into floating hotels) crusing the waterways.
This precious jewel of Africa wants your vote. The Okavango Delta is Africa's largest and most beautiful oasis. The river's mighty waters empty over the sands of the Kalahari. The huge Kalahari desert's thirst is locally quenched in a blue-green wilderness of fresh water, with emerald reed beds and towering trees. This brings in wildlife in huge numbers as they take advantage of this massive watering hole.
The Kafue Flats are located in central Zambia along the Kafue River. This unique wetland landscape of grasslands, lagoons, marshes, swamps and reed beds covers some 6,500km2. It is one of the major wetlands in water-rich Zambia and is extremely important for wildlife, fishing, cattle-grazing, sugar-cane farming and the production of hydro-electric power.
The Everglades is one of the world's only rain-fed flooded grasslands on limestone and North America's most extensive flooded grassland. This wetland is one of nature's most efficient water treatment systems where plants filter pollutants out of the slow-moving water, delivering cleaner water to the Florida Bay, the Florida Keys, and nearby coral reefs.
Lower Danube and Danube Delta (Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine)
This area boasts the largest reed bed in the world. It also attracts the largest colony of pelicans outside Africa. The Danube delta hosts over 300 species of birds as well as 45 freshwater fish species in its numerous lakes and marshes.
The Sundarbans is the largest mangrove forest in the world. Sundarbans means 'beautiful forests', but the region may also have been named after the large number of Sundari trees that grow in the salty coastal waters. This area is definitely fit for royalty as it is home to possibly the largest population of Royal Bengal tigers in the world.
WWF works in many areas of the world to preserve the Earth’s wetlands. Projects focus on protection of these unique habitats, restoration of healthy river systems and the sustainable use of natural resources.