Black Caiman Project

Black Caiman Project


Introduction: Known as one of the largest predators of the Amazon, the Black Caiman maintains an average length of 3.5-4 meters and is responsible for the biological balance of the ecosystems they inhabit. Sadly, the late 20th century’s demand for crocodilian leather and meat product fueled the excessive hunt for black caiman, causing their numbers to drastically plummet.

Objective: To monitor black caimans in various aquatic habitats to evaluate the health, size, and type of population.

Method: We have created a crocodilian database to record information on the individuals we see or catch. Pertinent information including size, weight, (etc.) are noted. The individuals that are caught are marked and given a specific number known as a recapture id. The purpose of the recapture id is to inform us if the specimen has been previously captured by us. Black Caiman monitoring principally takes place at night when they are more active and easier to spot using headlamps due to their eye reflection. Caimans too large or risky to capture are given an estimated size based on the length of the head.

Where: Black Caiman typically reside in oxbow lakes, stagnant, or slow moving bodies of water although remote, swampy aquatic areas are favored. We have chosen to conduct our research on lakes within aguajales.

Results and Discussion:


Lake 1

Most of our capture and release caimans were obtained at Lake 1. None were adults nor exceeded 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) and many contained parasitic algae under their legs. A large adult caiman between 4.5-5 meters (14.8-16.4 feet) was spotted on two separate occasions; once in shallow water on aquatic vegetation and the other within floating grasses exposing only the top of its head. Both times this large creature fled the areas quickly and frantically. We speculate that this large individual has been around during the period when caiman hunting was common and has learned to fear and hide from humans.

 

The brown colored substance beneath the leg of this young crocodilian is the parasitic algae

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