Brazil: The Pantanal

Tim Valentine

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The Pantanal was the last biome we visited during our August Brazil trip. We saved the best for last, hoping to see Giant Anteaters, Giant River Otters, Hyacinth Macaws and Jaguars. Pantanal means marsh in Portuguese. This vast area of Brazilian savannah gets inundated yearly by the spring and summer monsoon rains. The relatively flat land area drains very slowly creating a vast marsh for much of the year. Tourism comes to a standstill during this time, because of high heat, high humidity, lots of bugs and the inaccessibility. As the Southern Hemisphere fall and winter arrive, the area dries out, leaving behind wildlife rich ponds and waterways. Our August visit was late, in a drought season. Most of the ponds had dried up, so we drove the length of the Transpantaneira highway to find some flowing rivers.

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Access to the area was best served by boats. A lot of the forest animals were by now familiar.
Red Howler Monkey
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Rufous tailed Jacamar
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Curassow
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It was exciting to see something new on the river. Giant Otters with their distinctive white spotted throat.
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The teeth may look mean but they are every bit as playful as our river otters in North America. They are big!
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They were very entertaining. We were able to watch a big group of them make their way upriver and catch fish seemingly at will.
These Capybaras were content to bask on a sand bar in the middle of the river.
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Our first Jaguar encounter was a nursing female with cubs. She entertained us by hunting the river side on land and then entering the water to hunt for Caimans.
Teaching one of the cubs how to stalk.
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We really lucked out that she continued along the river for a lengthy time, posing and hunting, then swimming.
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On the hunt for Caiman
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Up above we were still seeing great birds.
Toco Toucan
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Pileated Woodpecker
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This is a typical water way that we would travel up.
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On this particular stream we saw all 5 of the Pantanal Kingfisher species.
Green Kingfisher
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Green and Rufous Kingfisher
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There are Tapirs in the water also
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But it is the Caiman that keep the Jaguars fed. The Jaguars have such a strong jaw they can bite thru a Caimans neck and crush or break it.
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In what was probably the best wildlife encounter I have witnessed, a female jaguar attacked a caiman in shallow water, subduing it. She killed it, then dragged it out of the water in front of us. It was as big as she was. It probably weighed more than she did.
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Later that morning her cub joined her for the feast.
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Back on shore we hiked around the dock area and saw a lot of Hyacinth Macaws. They are the biggest macaw in Brazil.
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There was also a familiar Great Horned Owl with a fledge in a nearby tree.
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These Coatis are attractive raccoon like animals that hang around in groups.
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We took another boat ride down the Rio Claro and found this Jabiru eating a fish. A caiman snuck up and tried to scare the fish out the birds mouth.
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Black Collared Hawk picking up a dead fish.
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Another giant otter exiting an old den site high up the river bank and splashing back into the river.
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I took my BCP bottle with me. Here it is hanging from the dock sign.
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The local birdbath was monopolized by these Yellow Billed Cardinals
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This was one of my favorite bird sitings. This Heron is very elusive and stays in the shadows of the low hedges that hang over the rivers edge. We looked for it for quite a while, finally spotting it in a shady area.
The incredibly attractive and secretive Agami Heron
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On the drive back out to the drier areas we finally saw our first Marsh Deer
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We also saw our only anteater crossing a dirt road.
Tamandua
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In this era where climate change is finally getting the attention it deserves as a world wide problem, it is a shame that the Brazil forests, Cerrados, and the Pantanal are still being burned down for short term ranching profits. The greenery from these equatorial forests are natures natural engines converting greenhouse gases back into oxygen. Eco tourism is a growing sustainable industry in Brazil. If you would like to do a safari trip with lots of wildlife you don't need to go all the way to Africa for the experience. Consider going down to our American continent to the South and supporting the growing Eco tourism industry that is trying to save these areas. All three of these Brazil destinations exceeded my expectations.

I have more Pantanal pictures and some Jaguar videos on my flickr page:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/14821634@N05/albums/72157719799080853/page1
Thanks for watching.
Tim V.
 

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Jackson

I like to go outside.
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May 31, 2015
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2,608
Wow, what an amazing experience. Blows my mind that anything hunts and kills caimans, especially when they're that big. This was awesome to read. Thanks for sharing it.
 

MikeM

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Oct 12, 2015
Messages
363
WOW! Great trip reports. I'm fascinated with South America and would love to visit someday. Looks like a trip of a lifetime.
 

Parma

@parma26
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Joined
Feb 12, 2014
Messages
725
Amazing! That area would not be fun to backpack thru. You'd either drown or be killed by an animal.
My son went on his mission to Goiania, which is east of that area.
 

Mike K

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Jul 6, 2012
Messages
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Que maravilha! What an awesome trip....and fantastic pictures. Thanks for sharing.
 

Reef&Ruins

Colorado Plateau is calling...
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Feb 3, 2017
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664
So envious right now of those Jaguar pictures. The anteater and otters were cool too!
 
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