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@@inyathi, looks like your stay at the camps ended well. Also, thank you for outlining your opinion about the camps and the practice of feeding the wolves. While I don't necessarily agree with you I am still debating this issue internally and like to hear all views on the topic. It might even be worth starting up a new thread somewhere to discuss further so that your trip report doesn't get hijacked. I am sure there are lots of great opinions out their to read.

 

In any case, looking forward to reading about what comes next.

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This is a great report because you highlight another of the little visited wildlife reserves around the world, provide background information about the camps, and raise well balanced points in your discussion. Thank you.

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@@inyathi - I always enjoy your reports and this is another excellent effort. I hadn't heard of this park before and it's enlightening to see another destination.

 

For what's it's worth I'm in loose agreement with your statements above. I think that for wildlife conservation to be effective in the long term it needs to represent an economically viable proposition for its local human communities. On a case by case basis and in a controlled manner this may require the use of a number of tactics that many of us could find uncomfortable including feeding, hunting, culling, enclosures, transporting, extending natural ranges etc. etc.

 

The key element for me is "case by case" and "controlled manner" - both of which I realise are easier said then done. In your case above, I can see the merit, with the exception of the armadillo example.

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@@Atdahl @@Livetowander @@lmSA84

 

Thanks all, one crucial point that I missed out in all of my posts on the Wolf Camps is that they are only open in July and August. I don’t know why they are only open for just these two months and whether they could in fact open for longer. Having to make sufficient money from tourism in only two months, certainly adds to the challenge.

 

 

In case of the wolves, I’m okay with feeding them, in other cases I’m not sure, ultimately unless it is clearly harmful to the animals, then whether it is right or wrong comes down to personal opinion. I shall be returning to this issue quite shortly.

 

 

I’m having serious router issues at the moment, so posting part 2 may take some time.

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Birds, Beasts and Big Rain

 

 

Getting wet in the world’s greatest wetland

 

 

27th August

 

 

The Taino Hotel is not the greatest of hotels, but it is ideally located next to the airport and for a one night stay it is entirely serviceable. We weren’t keen to stay too long in Cuiaba. I wasn’t in least bit worried about the Zika virus when deciding to visit Brazil, the risk in the Pantanal is extremely small. Where there is a risk is in large urban centres where you have a reservoir of the virus, in the human population and the Aedes egyptii mosquitoes needed to spread it, Cuiaba is such a place. The risk is still very small, especially only staying one night, I don’t even recall encountering any mosquitoes, but I thought I’d mention it, in case anyone was wondering. We were warned that Cuiaba was the only place where we might be at risk.

 

 

After a good breakfast we were met by our new guide Paulo Barreiros, who is another excellent naturalist guide. Although he guides all over Brazil and has lived in the country for many years, we were interested to learn that he was actually born in Mozambique.

 

 

We loaded our bags into our minibus and set off in the direction of the Trans-Pantanal Highway, for the next stage of our adventure. Or I could say the next stage of our SouthWild safari as our next destination was Charlie Munn’s Brazil HQ SouthWild Pantanal. I’d stayed at this lodge on my last Brazil trip and had something of a soft spot for the place. Thanks entirely to my extreme good fortune, in having a close encounter with a giant otter and then spotting an early morning jaguar. I was looking forward to a return visit, even if it was only for one night. After that we would be heading on to are next destination on the Cuiaba River, in my earlier report I wrote the following about SouthWild’s Flotel.

 

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The Flotel is moored on the edge of the park close to the prime jaguar viewing areas, this means you don’t have to spend too much time boating. However, I understand that when you’re not out boating up and down looking for jaguars and other animals, you are effectively confined to the houseboat because you’re not really allowed to go ashore, at least not anywhere in the immediate vicinity of the Flotel. I imagine the 10 private rooms are somewhat cramped and really the thought of spending 3 nights on this houseboat, didn’t hold much appeal, nor the thought of not being able to go ashore, a distinct disadvantage for birding, this is why we opted to stay at the Porto Jofre Hotel. Boating past the Flotel as we did on a few occasions, I really felt we’d made the right decision, going for the hotel, but as I never went on board the Flotel, I can’t say what it’s really like, for all I know it may actually be very nice.

 

 

 

 

So it might comes as something of a surprise, when I say that this is where we would be staying next, while on the river. NatureTrek were adamant that the Flotel was the place to stay when looking for jaguars, so we went with their advice, despite having some reservations. Whether we had made the right choice or not, is something we would discover over the next few days, when and if we got there. For now, the sun was shining unlike on my last visit and I was just happy to be heading back to the Trans-Pantanal Highway and on to SouthWild Pantanal or the Pantanal Wildlife Centre as it was called on my last visit.

 

 

The first part of the drive south from Cuiaba, is through some fairly nondescript cerrado, it’s only really when you reach the start of the Transpantaneira and enter the Pantanal, that it starts to get interesting. This when you really start to see the first of the wildlife, unlike in Piaui, here there’s plenty of water around, even though it was the dry season. We were soon seeing all of the common wetland birds, that we hadn’t seen up in Parnaiba, I’m sure that many of them are in fact, there in some of the large marshes, but we didn’t really see them. Here you constantly pass little ponds beside the road, full of egrets, herons and storks amongst other birds and large numbers of yacare caiman.

 

 

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The start of the Trans-Pantanal Highway, Matto Grosso Brazil

 

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Sunbittern

 

 

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Yacare caiman

 

 

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Jabiru stork

 

 

Not long after we’d driven on to the highway, we came to a bridge over some large pools, where all the tourists stop to see the caiman and the birds. It was great to get out and walk around in the sunshine and catch up with some of the birds, I remembered from my last trip.

 

 

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Large-billed tern

 

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Black skimmer

 

 

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The Transpantaneira is still a dirt road, along its length are some 122 wooden bridges, sturdy though they are, they can’t withstand the heavy trucks that pass over them forever, eventually they give way. At the top end of the road, they have started to replace them with bridges of steel, concrete and earth but progress seems to be pretty slow. We had to drive around quite a few half built bridges, no one seemed to be working on any of them, but it was a Saturday, so maybe they were off for the weekend.

 

 

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Wood storks

 

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Whistling heron

 

 

Alongside all of the wetland wildlife, in some of the pastureland, we occasionally saw dry country species like greater rheas. We had seen some of these birds on the way up to Piaui and in fact one quite distant one, in the edge of the woodland in Parnaiba Headwaters NP. Here we didn’t see huge numbers, but we did see them rather better.

 

 

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Greater rheas

 

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Marsh deer

 

 

The long black legs and overall colouration of the marsh deer, is curiously similar to that of the maned wolf, though they're hardly alike otherwise.

 

After arriving at SouthWild Pantanal, we checked in and our driver parked his minibus under the shade of a large fig tree, the only tree in the car park. We then made our way to the dining room for lunch, mid way through the meal we all thought what’s that rumbling sound, it’s the dry season, surely it can’t really be thunder. Well, it was thunder, we went outside after lunch and could clearly see a storm, albeit some distance away.

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At SouthWild, in the field on beyond the car park, is a jabiru stork’s nest at the top of a dead tree, next to the tree is a metal tower for watching and photographing the storks. On my last visit, there were monk parakeets making use of the nest, but no storks, this time there was a pair of storks and three chicks. As we were scheduled to go on a boat trip on Rio Pixaim, later in the afternoon and would be leaving in the morning, I thought that this might be my one moment, to very quickly go up the tower.

 

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Jabiru storks nest

 

The storm was still some distance away, I wasn't sure if it was headed our way or just passing by, but I figured, I had just enough time to go up and take a few shots and everyone assured me it was safe. Ascending the spiral staircase, I decided on reaching the hatch, through which you climb on to the platform, that I was already level with the nest and there was no need to go higher. I sat there for a few minutes taking some photos and some short video,

 

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until there was quite a loud bang, not very far away. At which point, I thought I’m not sure if this was such a good idea and hastily descended to the ground, as I returned to the lodge, there was flash of lighting over the river.

 

So much for the dry season, when I was back under cover, the wind got up blowing the leaves from the lawn, and it then started to rain. Really rain, this was turning into quite a serious tropical rainstorm, the stork tower that I had climbed only minutes before, was now barely visible at all.

 

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Where’s the storks nest gone?

 

On my last visit, I had spent my siesta time by the river watching a giant otter, I don’t believe in flying halfway around the world to look at the inside of a hotel room. Well this afternoon, there was no option but to retreat to our rooms, after taking a few photos and videos of the rain. I went inside, wondering whether we would be able to go on our boat trip later on. On my last trip, I’d been caught in a rainstorm, while out on the Cuiaba River, it had been pretty hard and unpleasant, because we were powering through it in a boat. But I don’t think it really compared to this, although fortunately, I wasn’t caught out in this one.

 

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What the heck happened to the dry season?

 

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Towlersonsafari

very much enjoying your report @@inyathi and looking forward to your description of the flotel it would be helpful if you could include in your report the sentence "and there were no spiders on the flotel nor had there ever been" as it will help me convince my wife that we should really go and see a jaguar!. she puts up with a great deal-well me-but has a real fear of them.

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@@inyathi, I am looking forward to this section of your report to see this area through someone else's eyes. I am curious to know when you were there since we didn't see anything but sunshine Sept 15 to 23.

 

Also, after coming back the caiman IDs have confused me. We were told that there were only Spectacled Caiman in the North and Yacare Caiman in the south. Some Internet research seems to confirm that. Yet when I look at pictures I can't really see a difference between the Caiman of the North and South and your ID of a Yacare Caiman in the North brings up more questions about my IDs. What do you think?

 

Alan

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@Towlersonsafari I’m not scared of spiders, but I’m not as fond of them as I am of other wildlife, I can confirm that I never saw a single one on the Flotel, nor I did I see one indoors anywhere else. Apart from the unfortunate mosquitoes at Hyacinth Camp the only wildlife I found in my rooms was the occasional tree frog. I hope having said that that your wife’s not freaked out by frogs. :lol:

 

@Atdahl The Pantanal portion of my trip was from the 27th August until the 2nd of Sept, so only a few weeks earlier than you. Fortunately we weren’t unlucky with the wildlife on this trip because the weather was a different story, which I shall return to shortly.

 

On my last trip I saw a handful of small caiman on the Rio Cristalino in the Amazon, in the far north of Matto Grosso, these I certainly understood were spectacled. When I wrote my report for the trip my initial thought was that the caiman in the Pantanal are the same and I labelled photos of them spectacled. However, midway through posting my report, I must have read online that the species had been split and that all the caiman in the Pantanal are now considered a separate species, the yacare caiman. As a result I posted a correction, since then I have thought that the caiman in the Pantanal are yacare. For this trip NatureTrek provided a simple checklist with a selection of the mammals, reptiles and birds that we might see, the only caiman species listed is yacare. It may still be up for debate as to whether they are really distinct species and where the dividing line is, I don’t know but I’ve gone with yacare.

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Great luck with the hyacinth macaws, monkeys, and marmosets on page 1. Very fascinating to see them use the rocks as tools.

 

With tracks you know the leggy Brazilian beauty is certainly around.

 

And there she is on page 2! Some of your photos really accentuate those long legs.

 

You Xenorhinotherium bahiensis sightings are also a first on the forum. Thank you for your in depth analysis of flora and fauna over the eons.

 

Thanks also for your comments and observations on the practice of feeding the various animals and its place in allowing them to survive via tourism. The only maned wolves I saw also appeared because of a decades long practice of priests leaving food on the monastery steps of Caraca Seminary. Your setting is a more natural background.

 

If a goal is preservation through tourism, you have played a role in making others aware of the possibilities at Wolf Camps , and they'll have a wealth of background knowledge when they go. You have created a tremendous resource!

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Perhaps half an hour or so later, I was made aware of a commotion outside; as I stepped out of my room, it was clear that the rain had stopped and I could hear the familiar sound of a chainsaw. As I walked down to the end of the building, I couldn’t quite process what I was looking at; it took a while to make sense of it. The wind had ripped the car park's fig tree out by the roots and felled it square on top of our minibus; a member of the lodge staff was standing in the tree, cutting away the branches to free our stricken vehicle. It took them some considerable time to cut away enough of the tree to get the bus out. Thank heavens, no one had been inside the bus at the time. With the rain entirely stopped we went ahead with our boat trip as planned, quite how we would get to Porto Jofre in the morning, we weren’t sure. They were still working to free our bus, when we left on our boat trip, some time after four o clock or so. Of all the things that could have gone wrong on this trip, or for that matter any other safari, a freak storm dropping a tree on our vehicle, is not one I ever would have considered.

 

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:blink::huh::o:(What the ....'s happened to our minibus

 

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Our minibus is under there somewhere

 

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The storm hadn’t improved our day or the lodge’s much, but this capybara wasn’t in the least bit bothered.

 

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That tree just missed your bus. Very frightening. I wonder how many others might be asking that same question of "What happened to the dry season?" on their respective world travels?? Unexpected weather and winds seem to be much more common lately.

 

You managed a nice capybara shot to round out your fine portfolio in spite of the setback!

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Towlersonsafari

Thanks @[member="inyathi and no just spiders!

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When the rain had really started, my only real concern had been, I hope it stops before our boat trip, otherwise they might cancel it or we might go and get very wet. Now I was rather more concerned, about how we were going to get to Porto Jofre in the morning, but we would doubtless learn the answer to that question, soon enough. Meanwhile my concerns about the boat trip, at least proved unfounded.

 

Last time the boat trip on the Rio Pixaim had been nice, but perhaps a little disappointing. We’d already seen all the common waterbirds and didn’t pick up many new bird species and the only mammals we saw were capybaras and long-nosed bats. I didn’t therefore have high expectations, for this boat trip, but as long as it didn’t rain again, it would be a pleasant enough way to pass the time.

 

This being SouthWild, they like to liven things up, by feeding the birds along the way, the boatmen has a supply of small fish which he throws to various hawks, herons and egrets. They do also feed the family of giant otters, that live in their stretch of the Rio Pixaim, but there was no sign of the otters. Last time I only saw single otter, I’ve not been there when they have thrown fish to the otters, so I don’t know exactly what goes on.

 

This feeding of fish to birds isn’t that unusual, on Lake Naivasha in Kenya, if you go on a boat trip, they may throw fish for the fish eagles, I think they may also do so, at some places in the Okavango. On boat trips in Australia, fish are thrown for white-bellied sea eagles. Throwing fish to herons as they do here, is not something I’ve come across elsewhere, it was quite obvious that some of the cocoi herons and great egrets were used to being thrown fish. Whether this is a good thing or bad thing I don’t know, what I do know is that I haven’t mastered the technique of how to take photos, that are actually properly focused on the bird. However, these photos are better than most of my previous efforts.

 

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Great black hawk

 

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Black-collared hawk

 

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Great egret

 

This Amazon kingfisher which arrived on the boat, is obviously well used to being fed, just to see how it would react, I stretched my hand out towards it and received a good peck. I suppose I should have expected that, still it didn’t hurt and I suppose I deserved it, as I didn’t have a fish.

 

 

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Female Amazon kingfisher

 

This outing produced I think the best sighting I’ve ever had of a boat-billed heron, normally during the day, they tend to be hidden in the bushes.

 

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Young boat-billed heron

 

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Capybara

 

A black-striped capuchin, a species I’d seen very well on my last visit.

 

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White-throated piping guan

 

This species was considered a subspecies of the blue-throated (Pipile cumanensis), but a few years ago it was split and is now regarded as a separate species (Pipile grayi)

 

 

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Sungrebe

 

I was particularly pleased this time to see my first howler monkeys in Brazil, last time visiting the Amazon and the Pantanal, I’d heard two different species, but not seen either. 

 

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Black and gold howler monkey

 

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Howler monkey couple

 

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Sunset on the Rio Pixaim

 

This really wasn’t a bad boat trip, having not rained once, it had taken our minds of the storm, but not for too long.

 

Back at the lodge, it was still just light enough to see the state of our poor minibus, which had by now been freed from the fig tree. Our minibus hadn’t been the only casualty; we learned that roof had been ripped off the staff quarters, which are located the other side of the field with the storks’ nest. This brief freak storm had done some serious damage, it’s perhaps a miracle, that no one was hurt.

 

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Our poor driver attending to his battered minibus

Edited by inyathi
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oh dear that bus doesn't look like its going anywhere anytime soon! :o But clearly you did make it to Porto Jofre...what a crazy story, and glad no one was hurt! You got down from that metal tower just in time, too!

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Yikes, that bus/tree situation doesn't look good. I assume things work out OK, but I guess we will have to wait and see.

 

Thank you for your reply about the Caiman. Since I don't like to misidentify things I contacted Vladimir Dinets who is a crocodilian expert (and the author of the very helpful Peterson Field Guide to Finding Mammals in North American). He confirmed what you said. The Spectacled Caiman don't appear as far south as the Pantanal. So, it is indeed the Yacare Caiman in the Pantanal. While both species have the bony "Spectacle" like ridge between the eyes, the Yacare have large dark spots on the jaw. The Internet hasn't caught up with the species split I think since many photos of Yacare are mislabled as Spectacled.

 

So, your report has not only be entertaining but educational as well! :)

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"...we learned that roof had been ripped off the staff quarters which are located the other side of the field with the storks’ nest. This brief freak storm had done some serious damage it’s perhaps a miracle that no one was hurt. "

 

Now that is a close call! The clouds made a lovely sunset photo.

 

Flying birds are always a challenge and are likely the impetus for bigger and better camera purchases. You captured the action well, though.

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@@inyathi

 

What a storm! Poor bus ... and driver.

 

"what I do know is that I haven’t mastered the technique of how to take photos that are actually properly focused on the bird."

 

Actually, you did not miss the focus. Those birds in flight (BIF) are blurred due to the shutter speed being too long. Your camera (= Auto exposure) decided wrongly; by trying to keep the ISO low (ISO400 - ISO1250), shutter speed was set between 1/250 - 1/333 sec. To get decent BIF photos shutter speed should not be lower than 1/1250 sec. ISO will be pushed up but is always better to have noisy then blurry photos! Try next time, practise makes masters :) !

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@@xelasThanks for the tip that’s great, it would really help if I had a better idea of what I was doing, mind you half the problem is not being prepared.

 

I was sat at the front of the boat; we must have gone passed the hawk, by the time I realised what was about to happen, turned around and tried to locate where the hawk was perched, the boatman had already thrown the fish. So I was really just pointing and shooting with what I already had the camera set on, I didn’t have time to think about changing anything. Of course having done the boat trip once before I should have thought I’d better be prepared for when the boatmen starts feeding the hawks. They may not be at all sharp but I think they’re the best I’ve taken so far, at least this time I hit the target.

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Besides an armadillo, which I had now seen, there were a couple of other mammals, that I was keen to see somewhere in South America, one of them was an ocelot. SouthWild has a habituated ocelot, in fact they have four of them and they’re very proud of the fact, that they have the only habituated ocelots in the Pantanal. To see this beautiful small spotted cat, we would need to visit the new ocelot tower. I had some idea of what to expect from the video that SouthWild have uploaded to the web. I had rather more reservations about this, than about the maned wolf experience, to bring the cats to the tower, they are baited with pieces of chicken. I have in the fairly distant past, seen a leopard on a bait in Kenya, I wouldn’t want to see a baited leopard these days. But then I’ve seen plenty of un-baited leopards since and finding leopards is not that difficult, if you go to the right places. Spotting an ocelot is a lot harder; you generally have to hope you get lucky on a night drive. Despite my reservations, I wasn’t going to turn up the chance to see an ocelot, so we’d asked NatureTrek, to make sure that we were booked to visit the tower. Although I always have a flashgun in my camera bag, I decided to leave it in my room and I’m quite glad I did, even if my photos suffered as a result.

 

For anyone who is familiar with SouthWild Pantanal or Fazenda Santa Tereza, as the original farm was known, to get to the tower, you walk through the gate out of the garden and alongside the Pixaim River. On beyond where the boats are moored and the river turns, the trail enters the forest, only a few hundred yards further on, is the ocelot tower. On my last visit, walking along the drive and in the grassland and also on this trail, we had found plenty of jaguar spoor in the mud and from the bend in the river, I’d actually seen one on our last morning. For this reason where you go into the forest, they have put a notice up warning guests not to walk on their own because of jaguars. Well as I would soon discover, we certainly weren’t alone. By the time we reached the tower, it was almost dark, I wasn’t able to photograph the tower. So I thought I’d include SouthWild’s video which does show it.

 

 

 

It’s basically three stories high at one end and two at the other, given that we had apparently had to book time in the hide, I was surprised to find, that the tower looked like it was fully occupied. There were certainly many more people than in the video, each compartment/platform had two or three people already in residence, waiting for the cat to appear, so we had to fit in where we could. To get up to the platforms you have to climb a ladder, not that easy carrying camera gear in the near dark. Somewhat similar to the hyacinth macaw hide in Piaui, a good solid dead tree branch has been firmly planted in the ground, this is illuminated and pieces of chicken are fixed to the other side of it, hidden from view. It seemed as if almost the whole lodge was there, there could have been I think 20 or so people. This number of people I really hadn’t expected.

 

At first it was pretty exciting when the ocelot suddenly appeared, emerging from the darkness of the forest, but as it approached the ‘tree’, it was greeted with a barrage of camera flashes. For perhaps the next 20 minutes or so, as the ocelot climbed the dead tree, to retrieve the chicken pieces and take them back down to the ground, there was an almost constant strobe effect of flashes. I was quite glad not to be contributing to this, I was content to try and rely on everybody else’s flashes and hope for the best with my photos. The ocelot eventually disappeared and with it most of the crowd, we stayed at the tower and waited until I assume a different ocelot came. This was at least a little better, as the tower was no longer so crowded.

 

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Earlier I explained why I thought feeding the maned wolves in Parnaiba was okay and I enjoyed that experience. In contrast, I really didn’t enjoy this experience, there were just too many people and I didn’t like all of the flashes going off. Having said that, the ocelots didn’t seem to react in any way to the flashes, but given that ocelots are largely nocturnal, one has to wonder what it does to their eyesight. Mind you it wouldn’t matter, if it temporarily affected their ability to hunt, after they’d stuffed themselves on chicken.

 

The problem really is that the lodge has 11 rooms and therefore potentially 22 guests + guides and quite a lot of people may only stay one night as we were doing. This means if everyone wants to see an ocelot and most people will want to, even if they’re not too sure about the ethics of it, then they have to all go at the same time. Anyone staying at SouthWild, who came hoping to see the ocelot, would be extremely annoyed, if they were told that the tower was fully booked and they couldn’t go.

 

As I said in relation to the maned wolves, Charlie Munn’s approach is all about guaranteed sightings. I think in this case, it is about guaranteeing that guests will see an animal, that they can’t be certain of seeing at any other lodge. Unlike Parnaiba, plenty of tourists already come to the Pantanal and this is really all about, ensuring that they come to SouthWild on their visit. I argued in the case of the maned wolves, that I didn’t think that feeding them did any harm, this for me is the crucial point, does it harm the animals. In this case I’m really not sure, I wasn’t comfortable with the experience, because of all the flashes, but does this really harm the ocelots I don’t know?

 

At Wolf Cliffs, there was no one else there, it never occurred to me to use a flash when Johanna the wolf came after dinner, there were no flashes going off, when I took my photos of her in the dark. While I’m okay with the feeding of the wolves, I’m conflicted over this ocelot experience. If the hide was better organised and they could find a way for everyone to see the ocelots, without having to all crowd in at once. And if they could illuminate the scene in such a way that people didn’t need to use flash. Then I wouldn’t have come away thinking that was a pretty awful experience. I’d still rather see an un-baited wild ocelot, than a baited one. Interestingly I found a video on YouTube of the ocelots taken by someone, who judging by their response to a comment, felt the same as me and didn’t entirely like the experience. Bearing in mind that Mr Munn was accused of baiting jaguars, an issue I may come to later, I’m not sure that the baiting is even legal in Brazil, but I’m not certain about that. Baiting animals like this, is perhaps less common in Africa, than used to be the case but it does still go on, and I believe that they bait brown bears and other carnivores in Finland and feed bears in Romania.

 

I have to say also, that my initial excitement at seeing the ocelot appear, would not compare to may excitement, were I to see one on a night drive. Indeed I would rather have caught a brief view of one on a night drive, even if I wasn’t able to take any photos, than see one like this. As I explained my approval of the wolf feeding, is based on my belief that it would be extremely difficult to attract sufficient tourists to Parnaiba, without doing so. That argument doesn’t really apply in this case, the hole left by the missing megafauna isn’t quite so obvious in the Pantanal, here you can see, the lucky few large mammals, that survived the Pleistocene extinction. Capybaras are just about everywhere where there’s water, marsh deer are virtually guaranteed, on the Cuiaba River, jaguars and giant otters are guaranteed. If you know where to go and you have some luck then you’ve a good chance of seeing lowland tapirs and giant anteaters. You may also see some other mammals and there are of course large waterbirds and yacare caiman everywhere, just about anywhere where there is water, there will be at least some wildlife to see.

 

People will come to the Pantanal whether they can see an ocelot or not, this as I say is really about persuading them, to come and stay at SouthWild, rather than one of the alternatives. It’s about offering something that no other lodge offers, perhaps at the expense of the welfare of the four ocelots involved, depending on your point of view with regard to the baiting of animals and the use of flash. I shot a very short bit of rather poor video but it does give a brief impression of what the experience was like.

 

 

 

When we arrived back at the lodge, we learned that one of the bridges further down the Trans-Pantanal Highway, had partially collapsed, thanks to one too many heavy trucks. We were rather wondering, if we would ever make it to Porto Jofre and on to the Flotel, since we clearly couldn’t go in our minibus and now this news of a broken bridge.

 

A good few of the other guests, were part of an American photographic tour, when we went to the dining room, their leader was giving them a photographic lecture. He is apparently quite a well known wildlife photographer in the US, but his name didn’t mean anything to me and I don’t recall it. His photos which he was showing on a big TV screen, were pretty impressive.

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@@inyathi - thank you again for another excellent instalment and your detailed notes of the experience. I think the level of detail that you're providing really does give us all an opportunity to consider whether this type of experience is appropriate for us, based on our personal preferences.

 

For me, this experience would be a miss and it's a part of the reason why I chose not to stay with SouthWild when we visited the Pantanal in 2014. I also completely realise that my judgement here is subjective and inconsistent - I for example would recommend viewing pine martins / badgers in Scotland which are baited in with peanuts and I support some (not all) of the Great White Shark diving which occurs at Gansbaai which again is baited. I've also a keen birder and some of the my guides will use recorded songs.

 

I think you also mentioned earlier in your report that you were strongly encouraged by your agent (I think NatureTrek) to stay at the Flotel to maximise your chances of Jaguar sightings. I have to say that I don't agree with that advice. We stayed at Porto Jofre for three days and were fortunate enough to see six Jaguars including one at Porto Jofre on the opposite side of the bank. The Jaguars are also known to warm themselves on the Transp antaneria after nightfall so you can see them on night drives out of Porto Jofre.

 

With regards to lodges on the Transpantaneria - I would recommend Pouse Alegre (for Giant Anteater and Tapir) and Pousada Piuval which occasionally have Puma and where we able to see an Ocelot on one of the night drives.

 

I also meant to mention that the first Ocelot photo with the blurred background is excellent

Edited by lmSA84
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@@inyathi I'm just catching up with your TR.

 

Thanks for the interesting comments on the missing megafauna and the accompanying artwork.

 

Your comments regarding habituation of animals have clarified a lot of the issues that I have with feeding/habituation practices. I guess there are many ways to view habituation - I have often thought where Mashatu fit into this picture. The animals on the concession live and eat wild, but do not run from vehicles as they are used to the sound and smell of vehicles and occupants from a very young age.

 

This type of habituation makes leopard very easy to see at Mashatu.

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they’re very proud of the fact that they have the only habituated ocelots in the Pantanal.

This isn't quite true - there's a lodge in the Southern Pantanal where habituated ocelots can be found, I visited there last summer. However, habituation there seems to have been accidental rather than by design, with ocelots learning that when fish are being cleaned there are left-overs, fishermen starting to throw scraps to ocelots directly, and the lodge now doing the same on occasion.

 

Andrea

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Not as leggy, but certainly a Brazilian beauty, you got to see the ocelot too. Your detailed description, flashes and all, is helpful.

 

"We were rather wondering if we would ever make it to Porto Jofre and on to the Flotel since we clearly couldn’t go in our minibus and now this news of a broken bridge."

 

That adds a little suspense.

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they’re very proud of the fact that they have the only habituated ocelots in the Pantanal.

This isn't quite true - there's a lodge in the Southern Pantanal where habituated ocelots can be found, I visited there last summer. However, habituation there seems to have been accidental rather than by design, with ocelots learning that when fish are being cleaned there are left-overs, fishermen starting to throw scraps to ocelots directly, and the lodge now doing the same on occasion.

 

Andrea

 

What lodge, if you don't mind revealing it, Andrea?

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