The Pantanal is a region in South America lying mostly in Western Brazil but extending into Bolivia as well. It is considered one of the world’s largest and most diverse freshwater wetland ecosystems. Roughly 80% of the Pantanal floodplains are submerged during the rainy seasons, nurturing an astonishing biologically diverse collection of aquatic plants and helping to support a dense array of animal species.
The name “Pantanal” comes from the Portuguese word pântano, meaning wetland, bog, swamp, quagmire or marsh. By comparison, the Brazilian highlands are locally referred to as the planalto, plateau or, literally, high plain.
The Pantanal is also one of Brazil’s major tourist draws, for its wildlife. Some of the large cattle farms offer accommodations and organized tours.
The Pantanal is a huge, gently sloped basin that receives runoff from the upland areas (the Planalto highlands) and slowly releases the water through the Paraguay River and tributaries. This area is also one of the distinct physiographic provinces of the larger Parana-Paraguay Plain area.
Pantanal has an average yearly rainfall of 1,000–1,400 mm (39–55 in) but is fed by the upper Paraguay River. Its average temperature is 25 °C (77 °F), but temperatures can fluctuate from 0 to 40 °C (32 to 104 °F). Elevation of the Pantanal ranges from 80 to 150 m (260 to 490 ft) above sea level. Annual rainfall over the flood basin is between 1,000 and 1,500 mm (39 and 59 in), with most rainfall occurring between November and March.
Interesting Facts about The Pantanal
1. The Pantanal is considered one of the world’s largest and most diverse freshwater wetland ecosystems.
2. The name “Pantanal” comes from the Portuguese word pântano, meaning wetland, bog, swamp, quagmire or marsh.
3. Pantanal ecosystem is also thought to be home to 1000 bird species, 400 fish species, 300 mammalian species, 480 reptile species and over 9000 different subspecies of invertebrates.
4. Approximately 99% of the land in the Pantanal is privately owned for the purpose of agriculture and ranching.
5. Deforestation is more relevant to elevated areas of the Pantanal which contain forest stands than lowland grassy areas.
6. It is a natural water treatment system as it removes chemicals, including pollutants, from the water. Overpollution from industrial development can harm native flora and fauna.
7. Otuquis National Park and Integrated Management Natural Area is a national park of Bolivia in Pantanal.