Unfortunately there are a number of endangered animals in the Amazon Rainforest. The IUCN Red List currently (May 2013) lists 2633 species of near threatened, vulnerable, endangered, and critically endangered forest inhabiting species in South America. A lot of these will be within the Amazon Rainforest, but will also live in the highly threatened Atlantic Forest and temperate forests in Chile & Argentina. The most threatened higher classification of Amazon Rainforest animals are the amphibians, which are facing a world wide crisis from introduced species, climate change, and changes in habitat.
An Amazon icon, giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) are the largest species in the weasel family (Mustelidae). They are also the most social animals within the family and despite being rarely seen in the northern Amazon are quite commonly encountered in areas like the Tambopata National Reserve and Manu National Park in south Peru. Giant otters feed on Amazon fish and crustaceans. There are ecotourism operations that revolve around communities of giant otters like the Posada Amazonas Lodge from Puerto Maldonado, Peru. Note that header photo was taken at the Posada Amazonas by Lucas Bustamante. Habitat destruction and hunting for pelts continues to threaten the species and their numbers are decreasing.
Along with the giant otter and the jaguar, South American tapir (Tapirus terrestris) are classed among the big three animals to see in South America. The video clip is from a camera trap at the Tambopata Research Center in Peru’s Amazon. Tapir are hoofed mammals that inhabit South American forests and despite a bulky appearance can move well across seemingly impassible terrain. They have a thick skin and like many animals feed off clay to obtain various essential minerals. Tapir eat a range of different Amazon fruit and seem to have a preference for palm fruit of Mauritia flexuosa. The fruits are also enjoyed by people throughout the Amazon region.
There are different lodges near in the Amazon where you can see tapir at clay licks, such as within Manu National Park, south Peru. You can visit Manu on tours from the Manu Wildlife Center and Manu Tented Camp (a low impact lodge). Clay licks are also accessible in the Tambopata National Reserve from tours like the Tambopata Research Center. Tapir are threatened by hunting and habitat destruction and their numbers are decreasing.
The jocotoco antipitta (Grallaria ridgelyi) lives in a remote area on the Amazon Rainforest side of the Ecuadorian Andes. The JocoToco foundation and series of reserves & tour lodges sourced inspiration from this species. You can see the birds on tours of the Tapichalaca Reserve, which was established to protect this bird and many others.
The jocotoco antipitta is an antbird about the size of a small melon and likes to hop around the forest floor. Luckily, the bird was recently discovered in 1997 and protected within a reserve just in time. The birds have a very small range and are threatened by deforestation. Their numbers are decreasing.
The red faced uakari (Cacajao calvus) is one of the endangered monkeys in the Amazon Rainforest. The Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve in northern Peru was established to protect this species. Keeping with the depressing theme of endangered life, the name uakari is from an extinct tribe that inhabited the Amazon Rainforest and we will never know its true meaning. Habitat destruction and hunting continue to threaten the monkey and their numbers are decreasing.
Books on Wildlife
Here is a selection of good books and guides on wildlife to help you learn more about animals and plants in their natural environment.