Sunset in The Pantanal
Capybara
Crab-eating fox
Giant otter
Jaguars

Hyacinth macaws
Chestnut-eared aracari
Yellow-chevroned parakeets
Monk parakeets
Amazon kingfisher
Hummingbird
Spectacled caiman
Tegu lizard
In June 2007 I travelled to Brazil's Pantanal - the world's largest wetland area. The Pantanal is reputedly the best place in Brazil to see wild mammals, because of its biodiversity and (compared to the Amazon) relatively open landscape. The mammals were not as numerous or visible as expected, and many of the sightings were brief, distant and/or at night. But we did eventually see jaguars and also some extremely relaxed capybara, as well as a rare giant otter. The Pantanal is also good for bird-watching, and even I was tempted to take a few photographs of some of the larger and/or more colourful species!
Capybara
Capybara are without doubt the most visible mammals in the Pantanal, and road signs warn drivers that they may cross the road at any time. The capybara is the largest rodent species in the world, weighing up to 66kg (145 pounds). They usually live in groups, but some males are solitary. The males have a large scent gland on their face which they use to mark their territories. Our best views of capybara were at Porto Jofre where we went out on the rivers in small boats. The animals didn't seem to view us as a threat, and allowed our skillful boat driver to get very close.
Capybara road sign
Capybara male and baby Capybara female
Capybara male Capybara female
Capybara male Capybara male
Capybara group
Crab-eating fox
The crab-eating fox is also known as the common fox, which is perhaps more appropriate - like most foxes they are omnivores and eat a wide range of foods, not just crabs.
Crab-eating foxes are also quite common, but because they are mostly nocturnal, sightings are usually at night. However, this individual was sat opposite a roadside cafe in broad daylight, so it had probably got used to being fed by customers and become habituated.

Crab-eating or common fox

Giant otter
This sighting of an otter eating its catch of fish was also from our river boat at Porto Jofre. Giant otters really are huge - their bodies are a metre (39 inches) long, and their tails can add another metre. They are Endangered, so we were very lucky to see this animal. Sadly, it's estimated that habitat loss will further reduce the giant otter's population by around 50% over the next 20 years.
Giant otter  Giant otter
Jaguars
Jaguars were the main reason for my trip to the Pantanal, so when the last day arrived and we still hadn't seen one I was getting pretty desperate for a sighting! However, our luck changed completely and on two boat trips we had six sightings of five different animals (each individual has distinctive coat markings).
Jaguar
Jaguar
Our last jaguar sighting was of an animal on the far bank of the river, which was very wide at that point. The jaguar entered the water and, thinking that we were as close as we would get, I started taking the series of (slightly fuzzy) photographs below. Jaguars are excellent swimmers, and it soon became clear that this one intended to swim right across the river. To our amazement, it headed towards us and ended up right alongside the boat, giving us fantastic close-up views to round-off our trip.
Montage of jaguar photos
Jaguar swimming
Hyacinth macaws
It was a great privilege to see these macaws near our second lodge - the species is now Endangered with only a few thousand individuals left in the wild, but we were lucky enough to see a group of 30 or 40.
The popularity of hyacinth macaws as pets and the resultant illegal trade in wild-caught birds has decimated their numbers. They are also still illegally hunted for their meat and feathers, and habitat loss to agriculture means fewer suitable nesting sites.

The macaws pair for life, and it was easy to pick out mated pairs from their attentive behaviour towards one another.
Hyacinth macaws
Hyacinth macaws Hyacinth macaws

Chestnut-eared aracari
Aracaris are related to toucans. This breed seemed slightly misnamed as the chestnut colouration on its head was nowhere near as striking as its yellow and red belly.

Chesnut-eared aracari Chesnut-eared aracari

Yellow-chevroned parakeets
Yellow-chevroned parakeet Yellow-chevroned parakeet

Monk parakeets

Monk parakeets
Amazon kingfisher

Glittering-bellied emerald hummingbird
This hummingbird was feeding on nectar from a tree outside my window at our first lodge, so I didn't even need to leave my room to take the pictures.
Hummingbird
Hummingbird

Spectacled caiman
Spectacled caiman
Spectacled caiman

Tegu lizard
Tegu lizard
Website created by Gill Sinclair
www.gillsinclair.net
All images on this page © Gill Sinclair 2007.
The images on these pages must not be copied or saved without the
express permission of the copyright owner.

Last updated 25 September 2007