It was in late September 2017 when I visited Pantanal in Brazil together with Lilani. This was my third visit there during the past few years to photograph the king of the Amazon the “Jaguar”, the third largest cat in the world after the Tiger and the Lion.
The best period to visit Pantanal is during the dry season from August till October when the water level on the rivers in Pantanal is low. This helps the Jaguars to come to the river banks in search of their easiest prey, the Caiman (South America’s equivalent of a crocodile) when compared to river Otters and the Capybara. The jaws and teeth of the Jaguar are strong enough to crush the bones of a large predator such as the Caiman. Of the big cats, Jaguars and Tigers get into water while Lions and Leopards do not. Jaguars swim in water in search of prey while Tigers get in to water to cool its body during the hot summer months.
As planned, on 28th September we landed at Cuiaba airport, capital of the central Brazilian State, Mato Grosso. We stayed two nights, half way to Porte Jorfe, where I was able to capture a few images of a spectacular and unique Heron of the lowland forest in central America, the Agami Heron and also a nocturnal small cat, the Ocelot.
Thereafter, we moved to Porte Jofre for 12 nights from 30th September to 12th October. During that period we sighted many Jaguars, both males and females. On some occasions I was able capture images of the Jaguar, resting on the branches of trees on the banks of the rivers of Pantanal. Most of the sightings were on the river banks of the Cuiaba river, the Three Brothers and the Corixo Negro (branch of the Cuiaba river). Some sightings were of the Jaguar moving along the river bank, while at times we spotted the cat swimming in water in search of prey. We also came across a mating pair in action but I did not get the opportunity to photograph that sight. Photography, particularly video filming while on a boat, was quite challenging on moving water and the turbulence created by other boats, when compared to taking pictures on land from a stationery vehicle.
Out of the many Jaguars we sighted, my attention was on a large mature adult male whose face had a scar. This magnificent cat is known as the “Scarface of Pantanal”. It is a very active predator hunting mostly Caiman on the banks of the Cuiaba and the Three Brothers rivers. This cat is also called the “Caiman hunter of the Pantanal”.
There were days when we followed Scarface for hours and on two occasions he made a successful hunt of Caiman in water, while on another instance he made an unsuccessful attempt to hunt a Capybara. I also had the opportunity to photograph this magnificent cat under golden light during sunset while walking along the riverbanks of the Three Brothers.
We also sighted two adult males together which is very unusual. I first thought they were a mating pair of a male and a female. Later, I was made to understand that these two males have been living together since their younger days sharing food and territory instead of fighting.
On the 15th October, I left for Colombia via the USA to continue my Odyssey into the Wild, especially to photograph the birds endemic to Colombia, while Lilani stayed in the USA.