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Project information

Save Brazilian river dolphins from extinction

Every year, thousands of Amazon River dolphins (botos) in Brazil are brutally killed, then cut up and used as bait to catch fish. If this illegal slaughter does not stop, the boto will be driven to extinction. We need the Brazilian government to enforce the law and save the dolphins.

This project will need to continue until the law is properly enforced and no more dolphins are slaughtered

Charity information: WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation

WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation logo
  • Need


    Every year thousands of Brazilian Amazon River dolphins, or botos, are brutally killed to use as bait to catch fish. These intelligent, beautiful and social mammals are speared and beaten to death with hand-held harpoons, machetes or axes. This is both illegal and unimaginably cruel and must be stopped. If this slaughter continues, river dolphins in Brazil will be gone forever.


    We urgently need to appoint local people in Brazil to work as ‘boto rangers’ in the Piagaçu -Purus Reserve near Manaus. These rangers will document and report dolphin killing and will work with the communities who live alongside the river to protect these remarkable, vulnerable dolphins. In liaison with local conservationists, we will work with the Brazilian government to persuade them to enforce the law and we will work with local communities in Brazil to expose the killing.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Stop the illegal dolphin killing in the Piagaçu-Purus Reserve and establish protection for them.


    » Appoint a team of local people as ‘boto rangers’ to patrol the Reserve. They will report any signs of illegal activity to the police.
    » Where the rangers and local police cannot resolve incidents, they will be formally reported to the environmental police in Manaus and action taken.
    » Encourage involvement from the local communities and ensure the rangers are highly visible and work in close cooperation with local people.
    » Recruit and train local educators to support the rangers to run a long-term environmental education programme in schools and communities.

    What success will look like

    Success will be an end to the deliberate killing of river dolphins in the Reserve and a desire within the local communities to protect them.

  • Impact


    Long-term, we will save these river dolphins from pain, suffering and eventual extinction. Dolphins are top predators and essential for maintaining a healthy ecosystem, and so by saving them, we can ensure that the river will thrive and fresh water supplies remain plentiful for humans and wildlife alike. This project is vital to protect the dolphins and to ensure a healthy future for them and the communities who live alongside them.


    The local communities may not be open to protecting dolphins. We will need a permanent presence in the area over a number of years and convincing education programme. The rangers could be rejected by their communities. We need to involve as many people in the ranger programme as our funding will allow. Employment opportunities are rare and we must recruit wisely. The environmental police may not take our reports seriously. We must build good relationships.


    Donors can sign up to receive our e-newsletter which will update them on the progress of this and other campaigns. If a donor gives £30 or more, they will receive our magazine Whale & Dolphin every three months. They can also follow the project on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £48,948

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £20,075 Ranger costs Salary, equipment, boat and uniforms for rangers
      £6,025 Education costs Equipment for community educators such as computer, slide projector etc
      £9,721 Project Manager To oversee the project - based in Brazil
      £8,000 WDC costs Managing the project, co-ordinating with Brazilian conservation partners, governments etc
      £5,127 Other expenses Such as police time, hire of boat for police, taxes etc.
  • Background


    The Piagaçu-Purus Reserve covers over 10,000 square km of the Purus River basin near Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon. The area includes flooded forests and a maze of rivers and is home to many species including river dolphins, manatees and important fish species. The Reserve is home to human communities who depend on natural resources for survival. It is protected for sustainable development, but because of its vast size and remote location; the laws against killing dolphins are not enforced.


    Both humans and dolphins will benefit from this project and this work will contribute to the health and sustainability of the whole area and all the species that make their homes here. We intend to establish a successful model which will demonstrate how dolphins can be protected from illegal killing and this can be rolled out to other areas of the Amazon in Brazil and neighbouring countries.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    WDC is the leading global charity dedicated to the conservation and protection of whales and dolphins. We have the expertise and the knowledge to make this work. We have long-standing relationships with scientists and conservationists in Brazil and throughout South America and a track-record in successful conservation projects in the region.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Alison Wood

    Alison is the WDC project lead. She has 25 years’ experience working with project partners in South America to implement dolphin conservation projects

    Sannie Brum

    Project Manager in Brazil.

    Boto Rangers

    Will patrol and monitor the reserve by boat and visit communities to build relationships.

These intelligent, social dolphins endure unimaginable suffering, please help us stop the cruelty

Alison Wood, WDC