The Amazon rainforest in Brazil is home to millions of species of wildlife, including some of the world's most famous animals. From frogs to monkeys to big cats, the Amazon holds a wide array of animal life. However, as environmental change, deforestation, hunting and the illegal pet trade pose a threat to the Amazon's animals, they must fight for their survival in their natural habitat.
The Amazon rainforest is home to 10 percent of Earth's known species of plants and animals, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The Amazon's animals include jaguars, poison dart frogs, anacondas, piranhas, electric eels, black caimans, scarlet macaws and howler monkeys. However, Scott Wallace at National Geographic states that since the 1960s, deforestation has reduced the Amazon rainforest by 20 percent, which threatens the survival of many of these animals.
Jaguars are the largest cats in America and the third largest in the world, weighing more than 300 pounds. From nose to tail, they can reach lengths of over eight feet. Meanwhile, the poison dart frog is a deceivingly small predator recognized by its bright skin, which it uses to intimidate instead of camouflaging like other frogs. This skin gives off poison that paralyzes or kills predators. Anacondas, which grow up to 29 feet long and weigh more than 550 pounds, are so large they feed on wild pigs, caimans and sometimes jaguars, according to National Geographic.
Many famous species call the Amazon rainforest home such as the scarlet macaw, known for its intelligence, bright plumage and lifelong dedication to its chosen mate. Rainforest animals can hear the call of the howler monkey two miles away, warning them to stay away. The black caiman, a relative of the alligator that has lived since the dinosaur era, has the most acidic stomach in the world, making it easy for it to digest any meal, and if it loses a tooth during a hunt, it will grow back.
Hunting and illegal capture is a constant danger for many animals of the Amazon. Tui De Roy of the National Wildlife Federation states that in the late 1980s, gangs hunted black caimans and exported 1 million skins a year. Since then, local land owners have begun protecting the caimans. Meanwhile, the beauty of scarlet macaws has inspired some to capture them for the illegal pet trade, which threatens their survival as wild animals. While jaguars are large predators, they are prey to illegal hunting that threatens their survival.
Deforestation and environmental changes threaten the lives of the rainforest's animals. In 2005, the University of Leeds published a report by several geography experts, which points out that a decrease in precipitation and other atmospheric changes could harm the rainforest and, over time, transform it into grassland. Meanwhile, the WWF estimates that by 2030, more than half of the Amazon's rainforests could be gone if deforestation continues at its current rate. Such changes would leave animals without homes and devastate their populations.
- University of Leeds: New Views on an Old Forest; Mark Maslin, Yadvinder Malhi, Oliver Phillips, Sharon Cowling; 2005
- World Wildlife Fund: Amazon: World's Largest Tropical Rain Forest and River Basin
- World Wildlife Fund: Amazon: Species
- National Wildlife Federation: Nigh of the Caimans; Tui De Roy; Feb. 1, 2003
- National Geographic: Green Anaconda