The Giant Otter Project of Frankfurt Zoological Society was initiated in 1990 by biologist Christof Schenck and Elke Staib. The project aims to increase knowledge and understanding of these important animals and to help develop a comprehensive action plan for their conservation in Peru.
The Giant Otter project has been monitoring the otter populations in Manu National Park since 1990 and more recently in the Tambopata National Reserve. The studies in Manu show that the large oxbow lakes, such as Cocha Salvador and Cocha Otoronga, are the most important habitat for the giant otter. Even in the vast Manu National Park these lakes are few, comprising less than 0.05% of the park and the whole park is only home to some 8-12 breeding families of Giant Otters. In Tambopata and its buffer zone there are fewer large lakes, such as lakes Sandoval and Cocococha within the Reserve and the Tres Chimbadas lake in the buffer zone, which form the Giant Otter’s core habitat.
The findings of the Giant Otter Project are helpful in the management of lakes and the establishment of responsible ecotourism in the region. We work directly with tour operators, guides, local people, park guards and the managers of the protected areas to protect Giant Otters.