Jaguars are unquestionably the main attraction here, but they are by no means the only highlight on the menu. The Pantanal is alive with animals, many of which are rather odd looking. The area already has a reputation for being a birders paradise, but the general public is not so familiar with the animals that one may encounter were one to spend a few days with us here at Caiman Ecological Refuge.
So, whilst every day we head out into the field in search of jaguars and their tracks, we are sure to take note and appreciate the plethora of other animals that call this wilderness home. Something which Projeto Onçafari is very vocal about is that we are using the conservation of the jaguar as an umbrella to protect all the species that are found here.
So take some time to enjoy and familiarise yourself with just a few of The Animals of the Pantanal
Crab-eating Raccoon – one needs to be lucky to see this animal out at night. It is not nearly as common as its North American cousin. We recently managed to find a Raccoon densite tucked into a tree cavity. If you have not seen it be sure to click here.
The Marsh Deer- the largest deer species in South America. It can be as long as 2m and as heigh, at the rump, as 1,2 m. Marsh Deer are restricted to permanently wet grass fields. They are a member of the Pantanal Big Five. Other members of the Big Five include: Jaguar, Capybara, Giant Anteater and Tapir.
Giant Anteater – for me this is one of the most wonderful animals in South America. It is so unusual in its looks. Caiman has a very healthy population of Giant Anteaters and you see them in the day or at night. Interestingly, they don’t have any teeth, but rather use a long sticky tongue to pull up ants out of their nests. A few weeks ago we showed some pictures of a wonderful encounter with a Giant Anteater, click here to view.
South American Coati – Equally at home in the trees and on the ground, this unusual looking animal is omnivorous and eats anything it can find. It nests in holes in trees and is found in large groups.
White-lipped Peccary – this animal looks very simillar to a wild boar. They occur in herds which may amount to over 50 individuals.
Pampas Deer – a deer that is found in low elevation grasslands of South America. At only approximately 80 000 individuals left throughout the continent, the Pampas Deer is a species used as an indicator for a healthy grassland system. This bodes well for Caiman Ecological Refuge as they are relatively common here.
Ocelot – Here you can see a large Ocelot dragging a Seriema bird away. A successful kill to keep him though the night. Ocelot’s are proficient hunters and the best chance one has of seeing one here is along the water bodies as they fish!
Tapir – one of my personal favourites. The Tapir population at Caiman appears to be becoming more relaxed. Sightings of this strange creature have improved dramatically over the last few months. Here one is even seen out in a grassy field in the middle of the day.
Red-footed Tortoise – these tortoises can get very large and are often encountered during walks in the drier parts of the ranch.
Yellow Anaconda – the movie ‘Anaconda’ did well in scaring most people away from wanting to see one of these, but they are truly magnificent snakes. They can grow very large and are usually found just basking in the sun. They are non-venemous and rely on constricting their prey.
Southern Anteater – I am well aware that the picture is not the greatest, but it does show you just how difficult these animals are to see. I have seen two in the last 5 months. Any sighting of this animal will be remembered forever. They are also known as Lesser or Collared Anteaters.
Six-banded Armadillo – These animals are found throughout the ranch and keep themselves busy hunting down grubs and nuts and seedpods. When the day gets too hot they simply dig a hole and hide away. To see some hilarious footage of Armadillos mating click here.
Capybara – the largest rodent in the world. This animal has featured extensively on the blog over the past few months.
Caphucin Monkey – The word capuchin derives from a group of friars named the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, an offshoot from the Franciscans, who wear brown robes with large hoods covering their heads. When explorers reached the Americas in the 15th century they found small monkeys who resembled these friars and named them capuchins. This is one of the two species of monkey in the area. The other is the much larger Howler Monkey.
Caiman – In Africa and Australia you have Crocodiles, in North America you have Alligators and in South America you have Caiman. These reptiles are not nearly as menacing as their larger cousins. Caiman Ecological Refuge is named after the Caiman, as the water starts to dry up you literally see hundreds of these basking reptiles soaking up the sun at the waters edge. For awesome images of Caiman up close and personal click here.
Jaguar – no photographic compilation would be complete without a Jaguar
Animals that I have yet to see or photograph, but which may be seen at Caiman include: Puma, Howler Monkey, Manned Wolf, Nine-banded Armadillo and numerous species of smaller cat.
For a good look at some of the birds that call the Pantanal home, be sure to click here.
Written and photographed by Adam Bannister