After spending seven weeks filming in the Brazilian Pantanal I can safely say it is the most species-rich environment I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. It’s not just the numbers of animals, I could personally identify 50 different species of bird by the end, but the ease at which you can encounter them. Unlike the Amazon which is so vast and dense that your chances of spotting much is greatly reduced, the vast landscape of wetlands and rivers lends itself well to animal sightings. However for me the most impressive species to see there, and the animal we were trying to film, is the jaguar.
Being able to spot jaguars ever single day was nothing short of incredible, and without the help of our eagle-eyed boat drivers, Shude and Ailton, I would not have been possible. These cats roam the banks of the rivers searching for caiman, capybara, and occasionally turtles. We’d be off before sunrise in our little 15 cc boat travelling upriver to scour the banks for any sign of this elusive cat.
It wasn’t just jaguars that this region is famous for, the giant river otter is a resident too, and a bloodthirsty one too. Get too close or block their route and you’ll have them biting your oars as you paddle around! The hunting behaviour was fascinating, they hunted together in the murky water feeling around for their prey, often eels and catfish. It always seemed like a highly energetic game, with their screaming (a noise that is quite indescribable, but parts reminded my of a dial-up modem connecting) and jumping and fighting, only stopping to crunch through their catch.