Pantanal – Wildlife Paradise

The Pantanal in Brazil is an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the world’s largest freshwater wetland, and one of the best places on this planet to see wildlife. In the dry season starting from June  wildlife concentrates around all the small lagoons and lakes and you are guaranteed to see vast quantities of birds and a huge number of crocodiles, and your chances of seeing the elusive jaguar are bigger here than anywhere else on the continent.


This huge jaguar weighing over 100kg was trying to catch and adult capybara sitting at the water edge just outside this image, but the attempt failed when the capybara jumped into the water and disappeared. Cuiaba River, Pantanal.


The magnificent and endangered Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) is probably easier to see in the Pantanal than anywhere else on earth. There are only an estimated 5,000 individuals left in the wild.  Taken near the Pantanal Pouso Alegre Lodge.


I came across this huge 4-foot long Tegus lizard near the Pouso Alegre Lodge, and without notice it started to walk in my direction, and in the end I could not fit it all into the viewfinder.  Key with these kind of creatures is to capture the forked tongue, which you see in this image.


This iconic Toco Toucan (ramphastos toco) is the largest and best know species of all toucans.  For a photographer to capture it in the willd is a dream, although it is quite common in many semi-open habitats.  I saw it on a number of occassions in the Pantanal, but always quite shy and difficult to approach.


Jaguar food!  The capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is the largest rodent in the world weigh weighing up to 60 kg. It is not a threatened species, in spite of the fact that it is hunted in many places for its meat and hide, and their survival is aided by their ability to breed rapidly.  They are herbivores mainly feeding on grasses and aquatic plants.

They are very common in the Pantanal where I most often saw them in groups of 8-12 individuals, always on the look-out for predators. I like the autumn colours of this image of a small capybara family.


A Most Unusual Owl.  The Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) is a tiny but long-legged owl found in open landscapes. Unlike most owls they are often active during the day,  but do most of their hunting from dusk until dawn, when they can use their night vision and hearing to their full advantage.

Interestingly they nest and roost in burrows in the ground, and this individual is standing right in front of his nesting hole, and I was able to get quite close without it getting stressed.


The Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria) is the icon of the Pantanal.  At up to 150 cim it is the tallest flying bird in South America, and actually a graceful flier.  Interesting to watch this individual subdue and eat this snake for breakfast, all over in less than 2 minutes!


For some reason kingfishers are not well represented in Brazil with only 5 species recorded, but I was fortunate to observe all of them, and get good photos of 4 of them.  This image is a Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata) the biggest species in South America measuring 40 cm.



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