For friendly, expert advice call: +44 (0) 1962 733051

Far from ‘Just Jaguars’

Jaguar, Stephen Woodham

Jaguar, Stephen Woodham

Following a superb experience in Brazil’s Pantanal, leading our ‘Brazil – Just Jaguars!’ tour, Nick Acheson reflects on what makes this vast wetland so special as a wildlife-watching destination.

I lived in Eastern Bolivia for 10 years. During this time, despite spending months each year in the field, I saw but a tiny handful of Jaguars. Last week, with a Naturetrek’s ‘Brazil – Just Jaguars!’ group in the Brazilian Pantanal, I saw eight individual Jaguars, two of them three times.

It still astonishes me that in the past few years such trust has developed between local fishermen, worldwide naturalists and conservationists, and the breathtaking Jaguars of the rivers and creeks around Porto Jofre. It is a trust which – amazingly – has turned the Jaguar from being the hardest big cat to see in the wild to perhaps the easiest, with the exception of the Lion.

Maned Wolf, Stephen Woodham

Maned Wolf, Stephen Woodham

From June to October it barely rains in the Pantanal. The waters of the great Paraguay catchment dwindle and wildlife moves to the rivers and remaining pools. At this time of year water holes churn with Yacaré Caimans and the legs of thousands of Wood Storks, Great Egrets and Jabirus. In the beds of water hyacinth at the pools’ fringes there are families of placid Capybaras with Great Kiskadees and Cattle Tyrants on their oily brown backs. Around their feet trot long-toed Wattled Jacanas, waving their lime-green wings as they bicker and fight.

This is a boon time for the naturalist in the Pantanal; and a boon time for the Jaguar. Its prey – the Caimans and Capybaras, and anything into which it can sink its mighty jaws – is concentrated around water. In the heat of the day these Jaguars are often seen loafing on the banks of rivers and creeks, aware, thanks to the vision of local fishermen over many years, that boats here pose no threat. In addition to Jaguars – mating, dozing, hunting, and living their wild lives – this is also among the best places in the world for watching the striking Giant Otter, whose families noisily (and pungently) inhabit the same creeks.

Giant River Otter, Stephen Woodham

Giant River Otter, Stephen Woodham

Scrub that. This isn’t among the best places in the world for watching Jaguars and Giant Otters. It’s among the best places in the world for watching wildlife. Period. Five species of kingfisher, Sungrebe and displaying Sunbittern, Agami and Boat-billed Herons, Silvery Marmoset, Hyacinth Macaw, Brazilian Tapir and Giant Anteater … Don’t believe me? Come see.

Take a look at images from our ‘Brazil – South America’s ‘Big Five’’ holiday here.

For further information about our 12-day Brazil – Just Jaguars! holiday, our 17-day Brazil – South America’s ‘Big Five’ tour, other wildlife holidays in Brazil or Big Cat holidays please follow the links.