Jaguar 2000x BINNS IMG_2301 copy

Jaguar, Star of the Pantanal

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Aug 2, 2020 | by Adrian Binns

A major target and highlight of Wildside’s Pantanal tour is Jaguar – the largest cat in the Americas, and the third largest in the world after Tiger and Lion. A population stronghold lives in this vast freshwater wetlands in the Mato Grosso state of Brazil, sustained by ample food resources and a tourist industry that encourages protection not hunting.

Jaguars are bulky and powerful, built for stalking and ambushing prey. Living in a watery jungle, they are adept swimmers, and spend ample time hunting food along the riverbanks.

Jaguar – cat nap

We stay deep in the heart of the Pantanal, looking for Jaguars by boat up and down the Cuiaba River and its tributaries. We see the large cats laying along shady riverbanks or on fallen horizontal tree trunks, or walking slowly on sandy beaches. They are generally solitary, but we have seen males fighting, courting behaviour, and a mother and cub all of which have been a special treat.

Jaguar showing canines

Jaguars have the most powerful jaw of the big cats, and 2″ long canines, capable of biting and crushing the skulls of large prey. Capybara, the world’s largest rodent, can weigh up to 150 pounds, and Yacare Caiman, a 9 foot member of the crocodile family, are their main food sources in the Pantanal.

Jaguar readily take to the water

The Jaguar’s blotchy-patterned coat blends perfectly into the background, allowing them to creep up to and pounce on Capybara, which congregate on riverbanks in family groupings, always keeping an eye out for predators. As excellent swimmers, Jaguars partially-submerge amid dense patches of floating water hyacinths, and grab unsuspecting Caiman with their razor-sharp teeth.

I look forward to further encounters with Jaguars and other wonderful photographic opportunities on our next Pantanal Wildlife Safari.

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