• Wildlife of the Northern Pantanal
  • 15th - 24th July 2016

  • Just like the south the Northern Pantanal is teeming with wildlife, some of which is the same but there are also many different species. One of my favourite locations is Pouso Alegre, a large cattle ranch which has been converted into a wildlife haven. I spent just under a week there tracking marmosets, capuchin monkeys and agouti through the forest, stalking a variety of birds through the marshland and having night-time encounters with tapirs and crab-eating foxes.

    Black-tailed Marmoset (Mico melanurus) in the northern Pantanal Southern Crested (Caracara plancus) eating a Chaco Sepia Snake (Thamnodynastes chaquensis)
    Black-tailed Marmoset (Mico melanurus)  and  Southern Crested Caracara (Caracara plancus)
    eating a Chaco Sepia Snake (Thamnodynastes chaquensis).

    Agouti (Dasyprocta azarae) foraging
    Agouti (Dasyprocta azarae) foraging in the forest.

    Cute brazilian Tapirs (Tapirus terrestris)
    A pair of Brazilian Tapirs(Tapirus terrestris) endearingly touching noses
    in the ranch garden just before dawn.

    Chestnut-eared Aracari (Pteroglossus castanotis) in the northern Pantanal
    Chestnut-eared Aracari (Pteroglossus castanotis)

    Luiz Campos, the owner of Pouso Alegre is a committed conservationist and expert on reptiles and amphibians who has discovered new species for the Pantanal. He has a genuine love of the local wildlife and took me on both day and night treks to find elusive frogs, lizards and snakes including the tegu lizard and false coral snake shown below:

    Black and White Tegu (Salvator merianae) in the northern Pantanal
    Black and White Tegu (Salvator merianae).

    False Coral Snake (phalotris matogrossensis) in the northern Pantanal
    False Coral Snake (Phalotris matogrossensis).

    I also spent a few days at the Jaguar Ecological Reserve. There were woodpeckers, parakeets and oven-birds nesting in the garden but the hightlight was cruising the Cuiabá River about an hour away where I was able to photograph two different jaguars as they calmly patrolled the river bank. Back at the lodge I showed my photos to Abbie Martin, an american scientist who is carrying out a study on Pantanal jaguars. She identified the older of the two as a female called Suzannah, the other hadn't been recorded previously and is probably one of Suzannah's litter from last year. Abbie named her Panamá which is 'butterfly' in the local native language after the markings on the front of her head. You can find out more about Abbie's work here...

    Mature female jaguar (Panthera onca) in the northern Pantanal Young female jaguar (Panthera onca) in the northern Pantanal
    Mature female Jaguar (Panthera onca) 'Suzannah' and young female Jaguar (Panthera onca) 'Panamá'

    The river is also home to many other species including birds such as herons, skimmers and kingfishers and two species of otter. My favourite is the huge giant river otter which lives in large, boisterous family groups of as many as a dozen individuals.

    Cocoi Heron (Ardea cocoi) eating a fish
    Cocoi Heron (Ardea cocoi) eating a catfish.

    Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata) calling
    Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata) calling.

    Giant River Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) eating a fish Giant River Otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) swimming
    Giant River Otters (Pteronura brasiliensis)