JAGUARS OF BRAZIL'S PANTANAL

Monday 1st August - Thursday 11th August 2016

MIKE WATSON

Jaguar. A Caiman kill is the shot everyone hopes for! (Mike Watson).

Jaguar. A Caiman kill is the shot everyone hopes for! (Mike Watson).

I wrote last year that if we had to compile a list of top photography destinations, in terms of number of subjects and ease of shooting them, then Brazil’s Pantanal would be in the top five. Again it lived up to this bold statement during our second Wild Images visit to this amazing region. Most importantly, Jaguar encounters over our five full days on the Rio Cuiabá and its tributaries were even better with 13 sightings and not a single

blank on any of our boat trips. As always, some of these events were not ideally photogenic, being either partly obscured by vegetation or in harsh light but some of them were stunning and included one with a caiman kill. Most were lounging around on the riverbank but this time we were able to stick with animals for much longer than last year. There were a couple of reasons for this. First of all the zika virus scare had caused many Jaguar tourists to stay away and secondly the Olympics in Rio had probably reduced availability on flights. The hotel at Porto Jofre was still full but this time with fishermen, who tend to stick in one place on the river and do not add to the numbers watching (and therefore disturbing) Jaguars so boats at each Jaguar sighting were far fewer and the animals we saw did not get spooked like last year. Consequently we were able to wait to see what they would do and we spent over three hours with several of them this time being rewarded with far more photographic opportunities. I wrote last time that ‘unbelievably it is usually even better than this!’ and it certainly was this time! I also wrote ‘the only slight disappointment was that we didn’t manage to witness a caiman kill, as this is a definite possibility... maybe next time?’. Well, we managed that as well on this tour!

Whilst en route to Port Jofre or scouring the riverbanks from there we enjoyed a profusion of other fabulous creatures. Close behind Jaguar in popularity was the Giant Anteater mother with a little one on her back at the lovely Pouso Alegre Lodge. These prehistoric-looking creatures have very poor eyesight and encounters can sometimes be very close, as this one was, although it is worth reminding ourselves that these ostensibly peaceful animals have been known to kill people with their incredibly powerful bear-like claws. Other highlights included the numerous encounters with family parties of Giant Otters, the ‘beauty of the shadows’ Agami Heron (five this time!) and the outrageous outsized parrot Hyacinth Macaw as well as the close views of Toco Toucans. The Pantanal was again simply fantastic!

It's not just about Jaguars all the time. Baby Giant Anteater at the lovely Pouso Alegre lodge (Mike Watson).

It's not just about Jaguars all the time. Baby Giant Anteater at the lovely Pouso Alegre lodge (Mike Watson).

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