Skip to content

64. Amazonian Manatee

Trichechus inunguis


The Amazonian manatee is the smallest member of the manatee family and can be distinguished by its smoother rubbery skin and lack of vestigial nails on its flippers.

They are one of three species still existing in the genus Trichechus, the only genus in the family Trichechidae. Their closest relative is the dugong.

The Amazonian manatee is the only manatee to occur exclusively in freshwater environments. The species is slow-moving and docile, and is often found feeding at the surface of the lakes and rivers it inhabits. As a result it is relatively easy to hunt, and is threatened as a result of both historical and current hunting for its oil, meat and skin. Manatees are also at risk from pollution, accidental drowning in commercial fishing nets, and the degradation of vegetation by soil erosion resulting from deforestation.

  • Order: Sirenia
  • Family: Trichechidae
  • Population: 8,000-30,000
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 2.5-3m
  • Weight: 300-500kg

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.28 (?)
ED Score: 47.9 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


Found throughout the Amazon River Basin of northern South America, from Marajó Island (Brazil) to the sources of the Amazon Basin River in Columbia, Peru and Ecuador.

Habitat and Ecology

An exclusively freshwater species, the Amazonian manatee favours blackwater lakes, oxbows and lagoons with deep connections to large rivers and abundant aquatic vegetation. The Amazonian manatee is completely aquatic and never leaves the water. A herbivorous species, it feeds on a large variety of aquatic and semi-aquatic vegetation such as grasses, water lettuce and water hyacinths. It consumes large quantities of vegetation, equating to 8-15% of its body weight daily. Since much of this food is of relatively low quality, manatees must spend a lot of time eating. They generally feed at the surface, and are thought to be active both night and day.

Find out more

Loading species distribution map...

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Urban development Tourism Habitat change Droughts Extreme temperatures Crops Livestock Aquaculture Fossil fuel Mining Shipping Fishing Recreation Dams Wastewater Industry Agriculture Garbage Energy

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
Available at: