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The Giant Otter (Hardback)

Giants of the Amazon

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Nature Hobbies & Lifestyle > Photography Hobbies & Lifestyle > Wildlife

By Jessica Groenendijk
Imprint: White Owl
Pages: 216
Illustrations: 150
ISBN: 9781526711748
Published: 25th February 2019



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The aptly named giant otter is exceptionally well adapted to life in rivers, lakes and wetlands in tropical South America. Known in Spanish as lobo del rio or 'river wolf', it can be as long as a human is tall, and is the most social of the world's thirteen otter species. Each individual is identifiable from birth by its pale throat pattern, as unique as your fingerprint. Giant otters are top carnivores of the Amazon rainforest and have little to fear... except man.

There are many reasons why scientists and tourists alike are fascinated by this charismatic species. Spend a day in the life of a close-knit giant otter family and you’ll realise why. Learn about their diet and hunting techniques, marking and denning behaviour, and breeding and cub-rearing strategies, including shared care of the youngest members. Become familiar with the complex life histories of individual otters over their 15-year lifespans. And accompany a young disperser during the trials and tribulations of a year spent looking for a mate and a home of its own.

Although giant otters have few natural enemies, they became the target of the international pelt trade in the 1940s, and by the early 1970s had been hunted to the brink of extinction. Today, illegal hunting is a minor hazard. So why is the giant otter still endangered? Find out about current threats to the species and discover how a variety of conservation actions are benefiting the otters over the last decades. Then be a part of the solution by acting on the steps we can all take to help further giant otter conservation.

For the photographs alone, this is the most amazing book dedicated to any species of otter I’ve ever seen. Its an intimate, educational and a dedicated love letter to the Giant Otter. The photographs capture all aspects of a daily and communal life of these Amazonian creatures in their natural habitat. Without even delving into the written content, this is a book I would repeated look through and feel joy.

However, this book is a lot more than just expedition photographs. This is a comprehensive guide to the Giant Otter. Within th not a book to digest in one sitting, but one you will drift in and out of many, many times.

I found the most important sections came towards the back of the book. Firstly there’s a chapter detailing all the issues that have caused the population decrease, and near extinction, of this beautiful species. It gives you an idea of how much of a destructive impact humans are having on the planet. There is then a chapter giving ideas of what we can do to help. For me, this is the most important chapter of all. It’s easy to come up with the problems, it really is something else to provide some solutions.

See the full review here

Queen of Geekdom

I was thrilled to come across this book on these magical creatures. The descriptions of the otters, their habits and their homes along with tons of jaw dropping photographs, made me feel ( almost) like I was there myself. Treat yourself to a book that will transport you to a place like nowhere else on earth, where you explore the wilds of the Amazon from your own garden.

Read the full review here

Cayocosta 72, Rose Smith

As heard on The Naturalist podcast:

Sea and Lev have a great conversation with science communicator and nature writer Jess Groenendijk about her recently published “The Giant Otter: Giants of the Amazon” , conservation in an era of change, and hope.

Listen to the episode here

The Naturalist podcast, May 2019

This is a charming and beatiful book about an animal species we don’t get in Britain but will nevertheless captivate and charm its readers.

Books Monthly

Jessica Groenendijk’s love for giant otters and their Amazon waterways makes her book, The Giant Otter, one of the finest on an animal species I have discovered. The author’s expertise in field observation and research are clear in the writing that is at once informative and accessible. Excerpts from her personal experiences and field notes strengthen the narrative even more.
The color photographs are more than beautiful portraits of otters and native wildlife; they join with the writing to tell the whole story of the giant otter. Early in the book we see the giant otter’s great size –he’s as long as we are tall-- and his fluid motion in the water, his strong, webbed hands that grip fish, and bright, inquisitive eyes, whiskers, little ears, and his mouth that is so expressive, especially when vocalizing. How could anyone not fall in love with these beings?
Through the author’s eyes, we come to know who giant otters are.
For the full review, click here

Amazon.com Customer

Jessica Groenendijk is both a scientist and a nature writer, and in The Giant Otter: giants of the Amazon she delivers a wonderful blend of these two disciplines. Her account of the lives and ecology of her study species is authoritative and unsentimental - as though she wouldn't dream of romanticising - and yet the charisma of these huge, Amazonian 'river people' burns through even the most factual descriptions, emphasised by an abundance of photographs. The real joy is in the inclusion of extracts from Groenendijk's field notes - they provide an insight into a truly enviable day job in the most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystem on Earth.

BBC Wildlife, March 2019 – reviewed by Amy-Jane Beer, Wildlife writer

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About Jessica Groenendijk

Jessica Groenendijk is a Dutch biologist with a passion for connecting people with nature. Her work has been published in BBC Wildlife Magazine, Africa Geographic, Earthlines, Earth Island Journal and Zoomorphic, amongst others. Her blog ‘Nature Bytes’ was Highly Commended in the International Category of the 2015 BBC Wildlife Blogger Awards and she is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers. She was probably an otter in a previous life. Visit www.jessicagroenendijk.com or find her on Twitter and Facebook @WildWordsAuthor

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