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Brazil's Wild Wet
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In Learn More the National Geographic magazine team shares some of its best sources and other information to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects. Special thanks to the Research Division.

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Did You Know?Did You Know?

As a Brazilian-born biologist and nature photographer, I have always made animals a part of my life. At first all I wanted to photograph were the beauties of the natural world and tell nice stories about them—the kind that everybody likes to see and read and hear. But years of driving on roads in and around the Pantanal made me start thinking of another way to promote environmental conservation besides just taking pretty photos. I was seeing beautiful mammals, birds, and reptiles closer than I'd ever seen them. But they were dead. This is how I began photographing roadkills, hoping to sensitize drivers and authorities to the silent slaughter that takes place on these roads every day.
During the wet season many animals use the roads to move about, since the surrounding land is flooded. In the drier periods, however, the situation gets even worse: The roadside ditches are the last places to dry up, providing a water source as well as a safe harbor from field and pasture fires. This is also the breeding season for most species and the high season for tourism. Consequently, vehicle traffic increases at exactly the same time animals are looking for mates and, later, giving birth. Mothers with newborns are especially vulnerable. One friend found a dead female giant anteater whose baby was still alive and hanging on to her back; another saw a female marsh deer that had just delivered a fawn, which was lying dead behind her.
It's been hard to remain indifferent while taking these roadkill photographs. Once I found an injured anteater that had been hit by a car. I contacted the Forestry Police, who rescued it, but it eventually died. Through this activity I've concluded that the death of wildlife on the roads may be playing a crucial role in the decrease of some species' populations. I see this as one of the consequences of "progress." On the BR-262, a major road in the southern Pantanal between Campo Grande and Corumbá, animal mortality rates have increased since the building of the Bolivia-Brazil Gas Duct and the opening of a bridge over the Paraguay River at the end of 2000.
When you're traveling on roads near preserved environments anywhere in the world, keep the animals in mind—for your safety as well as theirs. Respect the speed limit and avoid traveling at dusk or at night, when animals are more active and more vulnerable, since a vehicle's headlights can confuse them and cause them to freeze in their tracks. It's been sad work documenting roadkills in the Pantanal, but I hope it will raise awareness of this avoidable slaughter.
—Daniel De Granville

Related Links

Association for the Conservation of Neotropical Carnivores–Pró-Carnívoros
Learn about Pró-Carnívoros's work to monitor the jaguar population in the Rio Negro region of the Pantanal.

Conservation International Brazil and the Pantanal
Through its research center at Fazenda Rio Negro, Conservation International works to preserve Pantanal wildlife and habitat.

Earthwatch Institute: Pantanal Conservation Research Initiative
Conservation volunteer programs offer an opportunity to visit the Pantanal to participate in wildlife research.

Experience Pantanal wildlife from a distance by listening to recorded wildlife sounds collected by biologist and photographer Daniel De Granville; his collection of roadkill photos is under "environmental impacts." 

Instituto Ecobrasil
Get background information and current news about the ecotourism industry in Brazil.

International Rivers Network (IRN)
IRN works with local communities to protect their rivers and watersheds. It presents an analysis of the threats to the Parana-Paraguay River Basin. 

Regional Park of the Pantanal
View a map of the Pantanal's 11 "microregions" and read profiles of each.

Rios Vivos
This environmental action group tracks news about the "Pantanal at Risk."
World Heritage Sites: The Pantanal Conservation Complex
Read a profile of the Pantanal Matogrossense National Park, designated as a World Heritage site.

WWF-Brazil: "Pantanal Forever" program

WWF is working with the inhabitants of the Pantanal and with the local states to let people know why the Pantanal is such a globally important area.



Banks, Vic. The Pantanal: Brazil's Forgotten Wilderness. Sierra Club Books, 1991.
Cardozo, M., and others, eds. Upper Paraguay River Basin GIS Database, Expanding the Pilot Project. Ducks Unlimited, Inc., 2004. Available online at
Charle, Suzanne. "Rivers Run Through It." Ford Foundation Report (Winter 2004). Available online at
Earthwatch Institute. Pantanal Conservation Research Initiative: Annual Report 2003. Available online at
Eckstrom, Christine K. "A Wilderness of Water: Pantanal." Audubon (March/April 1996), 54-65.

Emmons, Louise. "The Secret Wolf." Zoogoer (November/December 2004). Available online at
Gottgens, J. F., and others. "The Paraguay-Paraná Hidrovia: Protecting the Pantanal With Lessons From the Past. Bioscience (Volume 51, 2001).
Available online at
Grzelewski, Derek. "Otterly Fascinating." Smithsonian (November 2002), 100-108. Available online at
Leland, Julie Hatfield, and Timothy Leland. "The World in a Wetland." Earthwatch Journal (October 2003). Available online at:
McGrath, Susan. "Blue Jewels of the Pantanal." Audubon (December 2002),

Mourao, Guilherme, and others. "Size Structure of Illegally Harvested and Surviving Caiman in Pantanal, Brazil." Biological Conservation (Volume 75, 1996), 261-65.
Pearson, David L., and Les Beletsky. Brazil: Amazon and Pantanal: The Ecotravellers' Wildlife Guide. Academic Press, 2002.
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. "Brazil Designates Privately Owned Nature Reserve in the Pantanal." Press Release (June 12, 2002). Available online at
Schnepf, Randall D., and others. "Agriculture in Brazil and Argentina: Developments and Prospects for Major Field Crops." Agriculture and Trade Report No. WRS013 (December 2001). Available online at
Swarts, Frederick A., editor. The Pantanal: Understanding and Preserving the World's Largest Wetland. Paragon House, 2000. Available online at
United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies and Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso Pantanal Regional Environmental Program. Inter-linkages Approach for Wetland Management: The Case of the Pantanal Wetland. (2004). Available online at


NGS Resources

Morell, Virginia. "The Rain Forest in Rio's Backyard." National Geographic (March 2004), 2-27.
Cobb, Charles E., Jr. "
Where Brazil Was Born: Bahia." National Geographic (August 2002), 62-81.
Van Dyk, Jere. "The Amazon: South America's River Road." National Geographic (February 1995), 2-39.
Elrlich, Anne H. "Brazil: Fight to the Cities." National Geographic (December 1988), 934-37. 
McIntyre, Loren. "Last Days of Eden: Rondônia's Urueu-Wau-Wau Indians." National Geographic (December 1988), 800-17.
Vesilind, Priit J. "Brazil: Moment of Promise and Pain." National Geographic (March 1987), 348-85.

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