Beginning high in the Sierra Parima Mountains of Venezuela and Brazil, the Orinoco River flows through impenetrable rainforest, flooded forests, vast grasslands and a wide delta before ending its epic journey at the Atlantic Ocean.
These waters are home to the critically endangered Orinoco crocodile
, river dolphins
, giant river otters
, the giant anaconda
and more than 1,000 fish species.
It is also a hub for rich birdlife, including flamingos, colourful parrots and the scarlet ibis.
In good condition
Compared to many of the world’s river systems, the Orinoco is relatively intact.
But this may not last for long as the river and its surrounding areas are threatened by pollution and mining activities.
Large areas of the flooded forests have been cleared for agriculture and cattle ranching. And large dams planned for several major tributaries will destroy water flows that support the region’s unique aquatic life.
WWF is working on the ground
in Venezuela and Colombia with local communities to protect one of South America's most important rivers.