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Boosting my feline-list in South America!

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Between 15 July - 8 August 2019 I visited Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil to boost up my numbers of felines to be the first one in the world to photograph every feline species on earth. 

My targets were: Geoffroy´s cat, Ocelot, Pampas cat, Jaguarundi, Jaguar and Puma.


We begin with:




My main mission for visiting Paraguay was to see Geoffroy´s cat. I had pinpointed Central chaco as probably the best area to have a sighting of this fairly common feline and started my research of where to go. Central chaco is a big area…  
I contacted Alberto Esquivel who is running https://www.wildlife.com.py and I got fast and great response. His suggestion was to try an area in a private land called Estancia Montania.


As far as I know no one have done mammalwatching here before but WWF have a long term study in this area with 100´s of camera traps and those cameras had revealed some interesting stuff. A lot of Geoffroy´s cats in the area and also a lot of Pumas.

Alberto often guide by himself but this time he was busy and put me together with one of the WWF researchers in the area – Andrea Weiler. She is a researcher and not a guide, therefore I was the first client she ever guided but we had a great time during 3 days.


Geoffroyscat.jpg.f6ec6d00a32ba802f78738b9f76f41d8.jpg      IMG-20190724-WA0004.jpg.6e84082184aafbf60d4824b9f57d4464.jpg


Some nice camera traps from Estancia Montania private land.



It´s a long drive from Asuncion to Estancia Montania who is north of Filadelfia. Additionally some unusual rain had made the road to a mud bath. We went off the slippery road two times. The second time a tractor from the Estancia needed to drag us up again...  




I had a lovely house to stay in with private room and private bathroom. Good WiFi and we had a lovely barbeque one of the evenings made by the staff from Estancia. This is a big private land with thousands of cattle but also 20% forest left and a good amount of wildlife around.  




Typical environment in this part of Central chaco.







My species list from Paraguay and Estancia Montania:


1. Geoffroy´s cat --- It took us 15 minutes on the first evening to find a Geoffroy´s cat, how lucky! In fact the very first animal we saw in Estancia. Alberto was obviously right when he suggested this place for this feline. I saw another one the second night as well but only very distant eyeshine. 









2. Pampas fox --- The most common mammal in this land. At least 15 were seen both daytime and night. Unfortunately some of them have a disease. Unclear what it is but it appeared about a year ago according to my guide Andrea. Around 20% of the ones we saw was sick. 




Healthy Pampas fox




Sick Pampas fox


3. Crab-eating fox --- Unlike the cousin above, only one were seen. By far outnumbered by Pampas fox in this area.




4. Capybara --- The always present Capybara. Where there is water, you are likely to find them.




5. Southern three-banded armadillo --- Very common. At least 6 individuals seen.





6. Large hairy armadillo --- Look under the cattle bowl. They use to have a burrow underneath. Free food for them. Two were seen the last day. Common. 





7. Unknown mouse --- During a daytour to Laguna Salada some 100km from Estancia Montania this unknown mouse inhabit the bird watching tower. Have tried to ID this rodent but too hard. Around 15 cm and the tail equal or longer than body.





8. Molinas hog-nosed skunk--- Three individuals seen. Common but a bit shy and they always went away quickly.  

9. Screaming hairy armadillo--- One seen when spotlighting. Quickly ran away.

10. Six banded armadillo--- One seen when spotlighting. Quickly ran away.

11. Grey brocket deer--- One seen crossing the road when driving back from Laguna Salada at night. 

12. Neotropical otter--- One crossing the main road between Asuncion and Filadelfia. 

13. Giant anteater--- One seen in the middle of day along the main road between Asuncion and Filadelfia.



Some noteable birds from the area:



Chaco owl




Tropical screech owl




Great horned owl




Burrowing owl



After this Owl-bonanza there were also other pretty birds.



Chaco puffbird 




Monk parakeet




Greater rhea




Roseate spoonbill , Snowy egret and great egret searching for food together



Stuff I missed 
Nothing really as I was here for Geoffroy´s cat. But if I missed something it will be the Puma. There is a very healthy population in this private land but they did not show up this time. 



From here I took an Amaszonas flight between Asuncion (Paraguay) - Santa Cruz (Bolivia) for my next part of finding the rest of those elusive felines. I for sure got an excellent start with my 21st feline species.


Next portion from Bolivia! 




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Thanks for this trip report @Antee - I am looking forward to reading it and learning about good cat places in South America.



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Posted (edited)

@Antee This might interest you: https://www.dutchbirding.nl/gallery/detail/24360?page=0#navbar-collapse

It's a picture of an Andean cat, after scanning and looking around during the day they found one in the first 5 minutes at night in Lauca NP, Chili.

Edited by ForWildlife

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On 6/1/2020 at 12:59 AM, ForWildlife said:

@Antee This might interest you: https://www.dutchbirding.nl/gallery/detail/24360?page=0#navbar-collapse

It's a picture of an Andean cat, after scanning and looking around during the day they found one in the first 5 minutes at night in Lauca NP, Chili.


Yes, this for sure got me interested! Thanx alot. 

Andean cat in Chile is in my plans.

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Posted (edited)


From Santa Cruz there is a 5-6 hour drive to Kaa Iya nationalpark where I spent my next 4 nights.

This is a rarely visited nationalpark, only around 20 people each year visit this remote place far away from everything.


It is a sort of permit madness to get here and it is impossible and illegal to just show up without all this permits. There is only one road inside the park. A road for the oil pumps in the middle of Kaa Iya. It is long though, around 100km. The oil company owns the road and you also need permits from them to explore this area.


I used: https://www.nicksadventuresbolivia.com/  to arrange everything and had a superguide named Saol, an old Bolivian gentleman who had spent years inside this park. Also a cook and a driver. We stayed in two different places. In the park ranger house and also at the oil company further inside. 



Lunch stop with our car at San Jose on the way to Kaa Iya.


Kaa Iya is a "feline heaven" and you can see four different species quite easy. Should be one of the best places as I know about in the world to see Jaguarundi and that was the most important target here. 

Jaguar, Puma and Ozelot are also all present in good numbers here. And alot of other cool stuff of course.



The first gate. An old rusty sign indicated that we now enter Kaa Iya


Kaa Iya is a very dry area. This is the dry chaco. It is flat and the thorny bushes make this place inhospitable.

As you can see there is not much of a view beside the road but you can see far in the front and the biggest chance is to have something crossing or walking along the road. 



Typical Kaa Iya landscape. Dry chaco.


The time was mostly spent at night as usual with felines but Jaguarundi you need to find early morning or late afternoon, even in the middle of the day as they are active during the day.


My species list from Kaa Iya nationalpark:


1. Jaguarundi --- Already on our first evening we got the most important one - Jaguarundi! 

Usually they are seen quickly crossing the road for just a second which leave you without a photo but this one I got into my camera! 

The light was almost gone and the photos are very bad but still, it´s a Jaguarundi in my camera! 



We could see it´s eyeshine far away and waited him out inside the car


After this sighting I got two more Jaguarundis during my stay in Kaa Iya. Both for just a second crossing the road in front of our car and then gone. 



Jaguarundi sniffing the bushes



2. Ozelot --- Another lifer feline for me. A few were seen but this young Ozelot was by far the best sighting of them. 








We stepped out of the car and stalked it a bit on foot and got a lovely view when it hid inside the bush.





3. Jaguar --- One Jaguar seen. I felt grateful to spent time with this creature far, far away from the crowds in Pantanal. Not a single human being for hours away. Outside Pantanal Jaguars are still rarily seen but Kaa Iya is a good place to spend some time with them on personal basis...

My 24th feline species.



Jaguar walking the road




Became curious about us




Turned around and walking towards us. Eye to an eye with a Jaguar!




Lovely sighting far, far away from the crowd madness in Pantanal



4. Crab eating fox --- Common at night. 10 individuals seen.






Crab eating fox



5. Tapir --- A very special and rare sighting of a mother with a newborn. Actually they didn´t let us pass the road and we didn´t want to push them either and kept our distance and while them walked into the darkness of Kaa Iya we turned around the car.



Suddenly this showed up on the road




Newborn calf


60.Tapir11.jpg.5672338a2e4c94e81f450d885550fc19.jpgThey simple didn´t let us pass the road




Such a lovely and rare sighting!




Kaa Iya truly delivers!



Another Tapir was seen later on drinking water from the road after some unusual rainfall.





6. Three banded armadillo --- Only one armadillo seen.






7. Gray leaf-eared mouse --- One of the smaller creatures of the night in Kaa Iya.





8. Conovers tuco-tuco --- One of the day active mammals you can encounter is the weird looking Tuco-Tuco. I don´t know what he was up to in the open and exposed to predators but he seemed confused.






Conovers tuco-tuco



9. Molina´s hog-nosed skunk --- Two of those quite nice looking skunks were seen. 






Molina´s hog nosed skunk



10. Gray brocket deer --- Three seen. All very shy. I guess they have their reason...



Gray brocket deer hiding in the thick bush



11. White coated titi --- This dry chaco species is fairly common i Kaa Iya and we saw groups of them 3 of 4 days. 



White coated titi



12. Black howler monkey --- On the way back outside the nationalpark we encountered a pair of Black Howler on a big distance. Male and female. 

Why couldn´t every mammal have different colors when it comes to male/female, it would make it so much more easy :) 



Male Black howler




Female Black howler


13. Chacoan Mara --- The only mammal I didn´t managed to take photo of as we only saw a couple of them the first day.



There is alot of other things than mammals here as well and here are some other cool creatures.



Red footed tortoise




Boddaert´s tropical racer




Tricolor hog-nosed snake


465863176_153.Yellow-tailedcribo.jpg.4c24b8c477d87dd41ec213faff6323ab.jpgYellow-tailed cribo




Bolivian black velvet



And some noticeable birds at the end...




Little nightjar




Blue-crowned parakeet




Turquoise-fronted amazon




Tropical screech owl




Great horned owl




Outskirts of the nationalpark. This is where we saw Black Howler monkey




Finally a Homo-sapiens. Me! :) 



Stuff I missed

I missed the Puma. Just minutes behind one as we had Puma scats on the road on the way back some 3 minutes after we turned around. 

But 3 of 4 felines were seen and photograph and Kaa Iya is a real "feline heaven" and a true wilderness far away from everything. I still often thinking about this place and how I appreciate real wilderness.


Next portion from another place in Bolivia...

Edited by Antee

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Zim Girl

Lovely pictures of the Tapir and baby, great report!

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Before I leaved Bolivia for Brazil I visited two "botanical gardens" in the outskits of Santa cruz. It´s more like a forest than a Botanical garden and far, far bigger than I thought it would be.
They have alot of interesting inhabitants.



White fronted capuchin




Black howler monkey




Brown-throated sloth








White-eared titi




Black-capped squirrel monkey




Common tent-making bat



It´s a great place to spend the day around Santa Cruz if you have an extra day in the area. Alot of birds around as well.


Next post from Brazil!



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Awesome report, it's always impressive what you are able to find in these unknown corners of the world nobody else goes to!

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15 minutes to target - doesn't get any luckier than that.  Hope you have not used up all your luck on this trip with the quick sighting of the Geoffroy's Cat.


I might just have to base a trip around a Screaming Hairy Armadillo!  There cannot be a better name out there.  Such a creature deserves to be seen.  Thank you for alerting me.


Those teeth on the Conovers tuco-tuco reminded me of the Giant Mole Rat, endemic to Ethiopia. 


Aside from your target, you saw and photographed some amazing species.  The baby tapir markings are a work of abstract art, especially striking when illuminated in the dark.


Do you recall what the homo-sapiens in the tree was photographing at the time?



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16 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

15 minutes to target - doesn't get any luckier than that.  Hope you have not used up all your luck on this trip with the quick sighting of the Geoffroy's Cat.


I might just have to base a trip around a Screaming Hairy Armadillo!  There cannot be a better name out there.  Such a creature deserves to be seen.  Thank you for alerting me.


Those teeth on the Conovers tuco-tuco reminded me of the Giant Mole Rat, endemic to Ethiopia. 


Aside from your target, you saw and photographed some amazing species.  The baby tapir markings are a work of abstract art, especially striking when illuminated in the dark.


Do you recall what the homo-sapiens in the tree was photographing at the time?




The Homo Sapiens waited at a waterhole for a daytime sighting of Ozelot. Didn´t succeed though.

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Posted (edited)



I've never really longed for Brazilian Pantanal. Although it is one of the great wildernesses in South America, I have never really had any desire here.
Too touristy, too many people and large crowds around the Jaguars are the reason for this. Kind of like I also like to avoid the most crowded parks in central India.


But, since it is the world's best place to see Jaguar, I threw in 2 nights here anyway with 4 boat trips on my South America trip.
Now I had already seen Jaguar in Bolivia so no direct pressure here not :)


The other problem is that Pantanal is quite expensive and I was not willing to spend this money so I looked around among budget options and found the following accommodation and site:




Pousada Porto Jofre is very reasonable priced. Not luxury but still good accommodation. Not the biggest and fastest boats but more than enough to find the Jaguars. I had my own boat all the time. 

If you want to do Jaguars a bit of a budget style, this is a good option. If you don´t rent your own car and go here you can arrange transport with them like I did. 





Yes I saw Jaguars during my 4 boat trips along the rivers.

They didn´t do very much though.




Male Jaguar




Female with cub




Something lurking in the shadows



No Pantanal without the other three iconic species in this wetlands...


Yacare Caimans... alot of Caimans...









Capybaras... alot of Capybaras... 










And finally the Giant Otters... alot of Otters...












I guess this are the four very much iconic species of this wetlands and you really don´t need to spend very much time to find any of them. 


Some other guys who hang around the riverside...



Yellow Anaconda, didn´t find the head of it though... 




Green Iguana



Azara´s Capuchin hung around the lodge...



Azara´s Capuchin


...and some other creatures along the Transpantaneira road.




South american coati didn´t cooperate




Neither did the Gray brocket deer




But the Marsh deer did! 







Argentine black and white tegu



Some notable birds from Pantanal. Yes, there are ALOT of birds in Pantanal.



Capped heron




Jabiru stork




Cocoi heron




Pied plover




Toco toucan




Bare-faced curassow




Black-collared hawk




Snail kite




Neotropical cormorant try to fish




Neotropical cormorant got it!



Pantanal was actually better than I thought and I was not disturbed too much by the amount of tourists.

The river is long and the boats spread out fairly quickly. I can for sure be back one day... 


Next installment from another place in Brazil where I got an odd chance of my 5th and 6th new feline on this trip.

Edited by Antee

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Great cross section of wildlife in the Pantanal!

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Emas Nationalpark


I visited Emas NP in Brazil as a part of a bigger South America trip mainly for the chance of Pampas cat and Maned wolf.

I am not a fan of baited animals so Caraca´s sanctuary and their famous church was out of question for Maned wolf for me. I wanted to see them in their right environment. Real stuff.

I was really hoping for some daytime sightings of them as well and Emas NP seemed like the right place for me. An odd chance of Pampas cat didn´t make my decision very hard.

I stayed 5 nights in the lovely Pousada Do Gloria: https://pousadadogloria.wixsite.com/parquenacionalemas


I can´t recommend this place high enough. Such a friendly place and with direct proximity to the park itself. Very nice food and also a bunch of wildlife just outside your door. I did all of my drives inside the park. In general between 06:00 - 12:00 and 15:30 – 20:30 The pousada has their own “safari car” which I used solely with my driver and guide Ana who is also manager of the Pousada.

She is a very good guide and have been in this park for 10 years. She knows it better than anyone else.



Pousada Do Gloria doesn´t look much from the outside but it´s a lovely place. One of the places in the world you are truly missing when you leave. Clean, fresh rooms, WiFi and all the comfort you need.




Emas NP is big. It contains rivers, forest, low dry bushy areas and the cerrado (Savanna). Typical Emas scenery with the cerrado and long straight roads. This is where the Maned Wolf thrives.



My species list from Emas NP



1. Pampas deer --- By far the most common mammal in Emas. You will see them everywhere and if you don´t it´s probably because it´s raining or is too cold.










2. Marsh deer --- Only one sighting when spotlighting on the fields outside the Park close to Pousada.






3. Pampas cat --- Truly extraordinary sightings of two different individuals of this elusive cat. On my very first nightdrive at 19:00 this big male appeared on a stretch of the road inside the park who should be particularly good for Pampas cat according to my guide Ana. Well, she was right…



My 25th feline species! A big male Pampas cat.




Smaller female Pampas cat on another nightdrive at 19:40



4. Maned wolf --- Two different sightings of this elusive beast. Both in daylight! The first one I screwed big time with still nighttime settings in my camera. Brief sighting for maybe one minute in very long grass at 07:30





The other one was a fabulous sighting for around 15 minutes at 17:20. Where we could follow the Wolf hunting for rodents, do territorial markings and lurking around.







Emas was a success and from this point on everything was a bonus with both my target species home.



5. Azara´s agouti --- They use to hang around the Pousada in mornings and late afternoons. On one evening I skipped the nightdrive due to very cold weather and spent my time around the Pousada to try to see one or two. And I did.





6. Crab eating fox --- The second most common mammal in Emas with 10 sightings. Most when spotlighting but a couple of them in daylight.






Crab-eating fox with some sort of skin disease. He doing pretty good though. 



7. Hoary fox --- One sighting only. Even harder to see than the Maned wolf and Pampas cat for me… at last, the spotlighting hours found one of these (to Brazil) endemic fox.





8. Molina´s hog nosed skunk --- Two sightings but always moving away and hard to get a proper photo.





9. South American tapir (Lowland tapir) --- Two distant sightings when spotlighting. Many tracks on the road. There is also a habituated one inside the park who use to hang around the old park administration, nowdays camping ground. I didn´t count him.






But even habituated Tapirs can sometimes make up for a good photo…



10. Southern naked-tailed armadillo --- One sighting. Suddenly appeared on the road and seemed to be running to Argentina or something… Nice, unexpected sighting.





11. Six banded armadillo --- One sighting of an individual walking towars us on the road. Both Armadillos appeared in very cold weather.





12. White lipped peccary --- A very skittish group when spotlighting was gone after a blink. A habituated individual stays close to park entrance and he will symbolize this brief meeting.





Other noticeable creatures during my stay in Emas…



Gold tegu




Crossed pit viper



Emas NP is also a heaven for birders and you can find more then 200 species.

Here is my selection of birds...




Bare-faced curassow




Blue and yellow macaw




Blue and yellow macaw




Curl crested jay




Burrowing owl




Burrowing owl




Pauraque nightjar




Turquoise-fronted parrot




Peach-fronted parakeet




Toco toucan




Lesser yellow headed vulture




Long winged harrier




Lineated woodpecker




Streamer tailed tyrant




Aplomado falcon




Red-legged seriema




Yellow-faced parrot



Stuff I missed


Puma. Tracks close to Pousada. Seen by National Geographic team who also stayed at the same place for filming.


Giant armadillo. Very fresh signs of them. Two freshly made burrows where we spent some time without success. Armadillo was out later that night and National geographic team got one on their camera trap leaving it´s burrow. My guide Ana saw the claw when looking into the burrow with a flashlight.

You could easily smell it when you put your head in the burrow.

Frustrating when you know it´s 2 meters from you but still out of sight.


Tayra sometimes seen close to main road at the park border but not this time.


Red brocket deer use to hang around in the forest and it edges close to camp. Seen by National Geographic team but not me.



You could smell the Giant armadillo inside


Next post from another place in Brazil :) 

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Awesome sighting of Pampas Cat! And I'm with you re: baited mammals, same issue with that place that baits the ocelots in the Pantanal.  And you got your Maned Wolf the "natural" way.


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Fascinating as always @Antee. Thanks for posting 

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7 hours ago, wilddog said:

Fascinating as always @Antee. Thanks for posting 


You are as kind as always :) 

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9 hours ago, janzin said:

Awesome sighting of Pampas Cat! And I'm with you re: baited mammals, same issue with that place that baits the ocelots in the Pantanal.  And you got your Maned Wolf the "natural" way.



I would rather go to a garbage dump and look for cans than sitting in a baited hide in Pantanal and wait for a habituated Ozelot. Not my kind of wildlife experience... 

Especially that it´s easy to see both Maned wolf and Ozelot "the real way" if you spend some time and know where to go. Baited animals I can see in a Swedish zoo. 


But I know there are different opinion on this. Which I respect. 

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Thanks for sharing - your “off the beaten track” reports are always fascinating


Glad to see this trip was so productive for you 

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Great mammals and birds @Antee - you are doing well on some difficult specialties.   I am sorry the Giant Armadillo did not cooperate.  


I agree completely regarding baiting animals and "tame" ones.  



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Wow, Emas did deliver big time for you. Congrats on your 25th cat, what an achievement. Really enjoying your mammals but the birds just as well - some really nice photos there, especially like the Peach-Fronted.

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Thanks for a very informative report. You had some great sightings.  I always enjoy hearing about your treks to some of the less well-known destinations in the world, and you’ve certainly provided us with another valuable resource here.  

Edited by Alexander33

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