We have been bumbling along the dusty, red-earth tracks in Brazil’s Southern Pantanal for the last hour. Since we left the lodge I have been searching the horizon. Searching every tree branch, blade of grass and riverbank, hoping for the slightest glimmer of a jaguar or any other wildlife for that matter. As we trundle along I am beginning to think I am considerably out of luck. Caiman Ecological Refuge boasts a 95% jaguar sighting rate. Our vehicle changes direction and I accept defeat as we head back towards reception.
A Small Victory
As I ponder what type of cocktail I will have from the lodges sun-downer menu we travel along a raised track which is sandwiched between thick forests and open flood plain. We slow a little as the distant sound of a barking capybara gains clarity. We spot the large male capybara half-baked in a sticky bog. It’s difficult not to laugh at an oversized guinea pig barking, but I celebrate a little wildlife victory. My guide turns to me and explains that the capybara is barking for one of two reasons. He is either gearing up for a seasonal mating ritual OR – most exciting of all – he has spotted a jaguar and is sending his warning signal.
We jump up from our seats and scan the horizon. From the corner of my eye I notice that the capybara is scrambling away from us. I’m too occupied to take proper notice knowing that a jaguar could be nearby. Sure enough, 50 metres away from where we are standing, a jaguar announces its arrival with the cool slinking of it’s tail above the reeds of grass.
Felino and Nusa
Not just one, but two jaguars emerge from the grass. My guide recognises Felino and Nusa (a male and female) by their familiar markings. The two of them settle down in plain view, oblivious to us staring at them with wide eyes. I watch on astonished, as mother nature begins to take course and Felino looks to expand his family tree.
The two of them lay for a while, playing in the dusky light as we continue to watch in silence. As the darkness of night begins to creep in, I watch them head off across the flood plain in search of their next meal. I only hope that our barking capybara has managed to make a bit of headway as Felino and Nusa march towards the rainforest.