my wildest dreams, or in my 30 years as a wildlife biologist, or even in my
years of traveling in South America, did I think I would see a real, live, wild
Jaguar. Jaguars are elusive nocturnal hunters, shy and wary. They
are seen by very few people as they hunt for agoutis, hares and peccaries. Furthermore,
when our Brazilian guide told us we had a chance to see them when we sailed on
the Cuiabá River in the Pantanal, on day 8 of our Quest Nature Tours trip to
Brazil, I was skeptical. However, he is highly experienced and he had
been right in everything else he promised us up to that point in the trip. Could he be wrong this time?
We set off on the river about 8:00 am; the day was typical for southern Brazil: clear, sunny, hot and beautiful. The Cuiabá River is muddy brown as it carries its load of silt towards the ocean and provides a source of great life along its banks. After about two hours enjoying the river ride, our guide said very calmly, "There is a Jaguar on your left, coming to the river to drink." With as much calmness as I could muster, I aimed the camera towards the shore and started to click away. I knew my wildlife colleagues would not believe that we saw a real Jaguar, living wild and free.
She was just resting along the river bank, perhaps already having had a drink, perhaps just taking it easy during the heat of the day.
Perhaps his time would come at another place and on another day.