Technical team

Caroline Leuchtenberger – Biologist. Coordinator and founder of the Giant Otter Project and professor at the Federal Farroupilha Institute. Since 2006 she has been conducting researches with the species that was the focal species for her master’s and doctorate. In 2013 she became the species coordinator of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) of the otter expert group. Carol has also advised on the development of the National Action Plan for the Conservation of Giant Otters coordinated by the Brazilian Environmental Agency (ICMBio) and the Global Strategic Plan for the Conservation of Otters carried out by the IUCN. In addition, Carol participates of the giant otters reintroduction program coordinated by the Rewilding Argentina Foundation, held in Iberá, Argentina.

Abigail Martin – American zoologist. In 2015 Abbie created the Jaguar Identification Project to instigate value to the world’s largest floodplain, the Pantanal. The Jaguar ID Project uses citizen science and camera traps to monitor the ecology and behavior of the jaguar population in the Encontro das Águas State Park and Porto Jofre region in the Northern Pantanal. Over the years watching jaguars along the region’s rivers, Abbie also follows the giant otter groups, contributing with information about the species and monitoring the groups that are focused by the project. Together her experience with the local community and the identification of jaguars has been contributing to the actions of the Giant Otter Project.

Grazielle Soresini – Veterinary. Grazielle specilizes in Medical and Surgical Wildlife Clinic and MSc in Animal Science. Since 2015, she has been working in field activities and monitoring giant otter groups in the Pantanal. She concluded her PhD in 2019 on genetics and health of giant otters. She has been performing veterinary clinical and surgical care of birds, reptiles and wild mammals in various institutions. Partner of the Free Life Clinic – Wildlife Medicine (Curitiba / PR), Brazil’s first veterinary clinic specializing in wildlife. She has been a volunteer member of the Otter Specialist Group (IUCN) since 2016.

Nathalie Foerster – Biologist and currently a PhD student at the Graduate Program in Ecology and Conservation at the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul. Nathalie has been developing her PhD thesis on behavioral and bioacoustic ecology of giant otters in the Miranda region of the Pantanal of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Samara Almeida – Biologist and MSc in Biological Sciences. Samara has been working for the past 6 years with giant otters in the state of Tocantins, acting with conservation, monitoring, environmental education, communication and animal behavior. Currently Samara coordinates a research on acoustic communication of giant otters in the Cantão State Park, Tocantins, which is part of her PhD thesis.

Lívia Rodrigues de Almeida – Biologist and Environmental Analyst at the National Center for Research and Conservation of Carnivorous Mammals of ICMBio (ICMBio / CENAP). She began working with the ecology of otters in the state of Rio de Janeiro in 2002. Since 2011, Lívia has been working on the elaboration of conservation strategies for the endangered Brazilian fauna and since 2015 she has coordinated the Giant Otter National Conservation Action Plan and the evaluation process of Brazilian carnivores extinction risk. She is also a member of the IUCN Otter Specialist Group.

Karen Arine Souza – Ecologist, Naturalist Tourism Guide for 10 years, she started guiding in the Pantanal and then moved to the Mato Grosso State. In 2020 she worked on the “Jaguar ID Project”, collecting data for the jaguars conservation and evaluating the jaguar population in the post-fire period. Karen currently participates in the Giant Otter Project actions envolving traditional communities in the Pantanal and helping to develop and apply good conduct practices in ecotourism aimed at giant otters. Karen is a founding member of the North Pantanal Tourism Association (Aecopan), being the administrative director from 2015 to 2017 and she currently is a member of the board. The AECOPAN aims to conserve the North Pantanal, using ecotourism as a social and environmental development tool, looking to develop a sustainable tourism.

Mariana Malzoni Furtado – Veterinary, graduated in 2002 from the University of São Paulo, with a doctorate in Science in 2010 from the Experimental Epidemiology Applied to Zoonoses Program at VPS/USP and a post-doctorate in Animal Epidemiology in 2014. She has worked for over 18 years in Wildlife Conservation in different Brazilian biomes such as Pantanal, Amazon, Cerrado and Caatinga, with emphasis on Conservation Medicine, Animal Epidemiology, Infectious Diseases and Interaction between domestic and wild animals. Researcher at Instituto Onça Pintada from 2003 to 2014, she has contributed to research projects in wildlife conservation, acting as a veterinarian and Conservation Medicine manager. She has experience with different methods of capturing wildlife, having anesthetized and managed more than 200 animals of different species, including jaguar, maned wolf, giant otter, ocelot, pampas cat, wild dog, peccary, giant armadillo, among others. Since 2007 she has been collaborating with giant otters’ research projects, performing captures and surgeries for implantation of radio transmitters and health assessment of the species. Always studying, publishing and contributing to the dissemination of Conservation Medicine and the importance of epidemiological wildlife studies.


Nicole Duplaix – PhD in Ecology from the University of Paris, France. Nicole has studied otters for 45 years and is now focused on otter research and conservation in Asia and South America. She is the founder and co-chair of the IUCN-SSC otter expert group – the global otter conservation authority. She teaches Conservation Biology and Species Recovery Planning courses at Oregon State University.

Fernando Rodrigo Tortato – PhD in Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation. Fernando is associate researcher at the Panthera Foundation NGO and has been working for over 10 years on projects aimed at jaguar conservation. In his doctorate, he assessed how tourism can represent a tool for jaguar conservation in the Pantanal. In his field activities in the Pantanal the observation of giant otters is very frequent. Fernando is interested in understanding how tourism can affect the behavior and survival of this incredible mustelid. Fernando plays the role of collaborator of the Giant Otter Project, assisting in contacting with local leaders, logistical support and the dissemination of the actions developed by the project.

Letícia Graciano – is illustrator and art educator, graduated in Visual Arts from the State University of Campinas. She researches childhood culture and she has worked in some NGOs in the state of São Paulo, providing artistic experiences for children and teenagers. Currently she is living with rural populations, and she has been engage with conservation projects in Brazil for a while.

George Leandro – Biologist, Sanitarist. George has lived and worked professionally in some states in Brazil. He has experience with Conservation Parks management and with conservation of endangered species. He lived and worked with traditional populations in isolated areas, and he has participated with social projects and has worked in urban and rural areas.

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