Amazon Alive

New species found every three days over last decade

In the lush rainforests of the Amazon, scientists have discovered a blue-fanged bird-eating spider, a black and blue-colored poison dart frog, a pink river dolphin and a camouflaged anaconda. These and thousands of other species were discovered in the Amazon between 1999 and 2009, at the average rate of one new species every three days, according to a new WWF report.

WWF hopes the report, Amazon Alive: A Decade of Discoveries 1999-2009, will raise awareness about the need for large-scale conservation initiatives that are supported by heads of state.

 Read WWF’s press release

Wonders of the Amazon

Exclusive photos from WWF’s new species report

Image: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

© Joseph Tobias
In 2007, the rufous twistwing (Cnipodectes superrufus) was described in the Peruvian Amazon. Despite extensive research in the Southeastern region of Madre de Dios, this species had escaped notice because of its inaccessible natural habitat. It lives only in tall thickets of thorny bamboo, a habitat poorly surveyed in Amazonia.

Experience the Amazon: Watch exclusive footage of giant river otters, pink river dolphins and iconic landscapes.

Species spotlight: the Bolivian pink river dolphin

The Amazon river dolphin was recorded by science in the 1830s and given the scientific name of Inia geoffrensis.  A separate species of the dolphin (Inia boliviensis), pictured above, was discovered in 2006, according to WWF’s latest Amazon species report. Known locally as the bufeo and unique to Bolivia, the Bolivian river dolphin is separated from the Amazon pink river dolphin by the Madeira rapids along the Bolivian-Brazilian border.

The declaration of the Bolivian river dolphin as a new species occurred during the first-ever South American river dolphin census, which was led by Fundación Omacha, Wildlife Conservation Society, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Faunagua, WWF and others.  Over 15 months, scientists navigated more than 2,000 miles between the Amazon and Orinoco rivers and their tributaries. They surveyed 13 rivers in five countries – Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela – and counted more than 3,000 river dolphins. During the expedition along the Iténez River, a total of 1,008 Bolivian river dolphins were sighted.

Scientific studies of river dolphins help measure and evaluate threats to these freshwater systems, including pollution and the impact of infrastructure projects, such as dams and waterways. Read more about freshwater dolphin conservation.

WWF in the Amazon
For more than 40 years, WWF has been at the forefront in protecting the Amazon. WWF supported the creation of iconic protected areas, such as Peru’s Manu National Park. And in 2002, WWF joined with the Brazilian government and other partners to launch the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) program – the world’s largest tropical forest conservation program. Read more about WWF’s successes in the Amazon.  

WWF’s current focus is developing far-reaching and powerful partnerships to reach a shared vision in which:

  • Development is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable
  • Natural ecosystems are valued appropriately for the environmental goods and services they provide
  • Agreement is reached regarding tenure and rights to land
  • Agriculture and ranching are carried out following best management practices
  • Transportation and energy infrastructure development is well-planned to minimize environmental impacts and the impoverishment of cultural diversity

Learn more about WWF’s current projects.

Global issues, local impacts

  • Global Threats

    After centuries of limited human disturbance, at least 17 percent of the Amazon’s forests have been destroyed in just 50 years. The main cause of this transformation is the rapid expansion in regional and global markets for meat, soy and biofuels. In the Amazon and around the world, WWF identifies and implements better management practices for agriculture, creating financial incentives to encourage biodiversity conservation, improving agricultural policies and identifying new income opportunities for producers. More

  • Community Action

    Indigenous and ethnic groups have lived in the Amazon for thousands of years, tapping nature for agriculture, clothing and traditional medicines. And while most of the Amazon’s people live in large urban centers, all residents remain dependent on the Amazon’s ecosystem services for food, shelter and livelihoods. Through WWF initiatives, communities are given the opportunity to reduce poverty, improve socio-economic conditions and become environmental stewards for the natural places WWF works to conserve. More

  • Climate Change

    The Amazon plays a major role in regulating the global climate, as its rainforests contain vast amounts of carbon. And its dense vegetation acts as a “global air-conditioning system” by pumping water into the atmosphere. Addressing climate change has been a priority for WWF for over 20 years, as climate disruption poses a fundamental threat to the vulnerable places, species and people WWF seeks to protect. Take action