©Wolfgang Kaehler

Pantanal: in search of the jaguar – Day 4


Up before 5:00, I roam the grounds to join nature’s awakening. In a palm, a pair of buff necked ibises raises their bills, call, and then gently preens each other’s necks. Barely a foot beneath them, monk parakeets fly in and out of their nests, singing and whistling as they rattle the morning silence. Neither species seems the least bit bothered by the other. Another palm — a virtual bird condominium — houses yellow-rumped cacique, some twenty nests cascading from the fronds. Horses wander up to their bellies among the pink and white water lilies, refreshing themselves in the already heavy heat. In the pond’s shallows, sandpipers and lapwings wade like circus clowns on stilts, their thin legs carrying them deliberately between the grasses.



While I observe the bird activity at the hotel, the rest of the group heads out jaguar hunting in a small boat– with cameras of course. In the afternoon I join them. We travel many miles upriver scanning the shores. A brilliant Amazon king fisher watches us from a branch that resembles a swing. Three species of herons, including the striped tiger heron, ponder our passing, while a pair of pristine skimmers, with bright orange beaks, rest on a blanket of sand. A couple of giant otters lumber from the water and dash into the brush. Finally, at nightfall, we spot him, a jaguar swimming across the river. It leaps from the water, its brilliant spots glowing in our spotlight. It struts the beach like a runway model. Can there be a more stunning animal?



Giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis)

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