Historical and recent information on the status and distribution of West Indian manatee, Trichechus manatus manatus, in Colombia was reviewed. Opportunistic and systematic interviews were also conducted. Historical information suggested that the distribution of manatees had been reduced in the Caribbean basin. Manatees can be found in the Atrato, Sinu??, San Jorge, Cauca, Cesar and Magdalena rivers and the Cie??naga Grande de Santa Marta marsh in the Caribbean basin, and in the Meta River in the Orinoco basin. The Magdalena riparian system provides the largest area of suitable habitat, which also has the highest frequency of captures. Most animals (81.20%) were killed for sale or to share meat in a subsistence base. Hunting is apparently increasing but capture with nets still represents the species' major direct threat. Habitat destruction occurs in all areas. International and national laws protect the species, however, funding is inadequate for effective enforcement of present laws. ?? 2001 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.