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Book Chapter

Mammals, reptiles and amphibians


Junk,  Wolfgang J.
Working Group Tropical Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Limnology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Junk, W. J., & da Silva, V. M. F. (1997). Mammals, reptiles and amphibians. In W. J. Junk (Ed.), The Central Amazon Floodplain: Ecology of a Pulsing System (pp. 409-417). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Verlag.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-863D-C
When the first Europeans came to the Amazon they were deeply impressed by the rich wildlife along the river. Cristobal de Acuña, who participated in the Amazon expedition of the Portuguese General Pedro Teixeira in 1637–1638, reported the great abundance of river turtles, which the natives caught for food and stored alive behind fences. Caimans had been so frequent that they were crowded at low water level in the remaining lakes in the floodplain. The exploitation of the large stocks of manatees and turtles became economically important activities. At the end of the last century, Verissimo (1895) criticised the irresponsible fishing and hunting practises and predicted the extinction of the turtles, the manatee, and the giant osteoglossid fish Pirarucú (Arapaima gigas). After World War II, the hides of caimans became of interest for tanneries and the populations were greatly reduced in a few decades.