Black Caiman, Melanosuchus niger

Photo © Brandon Sideleau
Dark Green = Present

Distribution (see below for detailed information)
Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru

Red List Status
Least Concern (LC)

3-4 meters; possibly >5 meters (maximum)

Habitat destruction; poaching; climate change

Notes on Human-Crocodile Conflict
Since 2014 the black caiman has been responsible for more human deaths than any other alligatorid, with 66 attacks resulting in 19 deaths reported. This places it behind only the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) in terms of crocodilian-related fatalities in the New World and fifth worldwide. However, this still only amounts to an average of two human deaths annually. While it is likely that incidents go unreported, particularly in remote parts of Amazonia, it is unlikely that a significant number of fatalities occur.

Detailed Distribution

Present in the Bolivian Amazon in locations including Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, Tipnis National Park, Rio Madre De Dios, Rio Beni, Rio Mamore, and more. Over the past decade five attacks have been reported in Bolivia, two of them resulting in death.

Found throughout Amazonia in Amapa, Amazonas, Acre, Goias, Mato Grosso, Para, Rondonia, Roraima, and Tocantins states. Important areas include Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve, Rio Araguaia (including Ilha do Bananal), Rio Guapore bordering Bolivia, Rio Madeira, Rio Branco, Rio Negro, and many more. Brazil experiences the highest number of black caiman attacks, with 51 incidents reported over the past decade, resulting in 15 deaths.

Found in Cahuinari, Rio Pure, and Amacayacu national parks including in Rio Putumayo, Rio Caqueta, Rio Apaporis, Rio Pure, and adjacent areas. No attacks have been reported in Colombia over the past decade, though a fatality was reported in Rio Apaporis in Taraira municipality in 2012.

Found throughout the Ecuadorian Amazon including Rio Napo and Yasuni National Park, Rio Curaray, Rio Aguarico, Laguna Lagartococha, and many other areas. No attacks have been reported over the past decade, but two incidents were reported in 2012, both non-fatal. One incident involved two victims and occurred in Laguna Anangucocha in Yasuni National Park, while the other incident occurred in Lake Wilicocha of Aguarico.

French Guiana
Populations are found in suitable habitat in northeastern French Guiana, particularly in the Kaw-Roura Nature Reserve. Only one non-fatal attack has been reported, occurring in 2016 in the aforementioned reserve.

Found in many areas in the central and southwestern portion of the country, particularly along the Essequibo and Rupununi rivers in the Upper-Takutu-Upper Essequibo region. Over the past decade three attacks, resulting in one death, have been reported in Guyana. The fatality occurred in the Berbice River at Kimbia in the Upper Demerara-Berbice region, indicating a presence further to the northeast.

Found in the Peruvian Amazon along many rivers including Rio Napo, Rio Madre De Dios (as far west as Manu National Park), Rio Ucayali, and Rio Maranon. Six attacks resulting in one death have occurred since 2014. The most recent incident was a fatality that occurred in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in 2023.