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REEF AND RAINFOREST CLIENTS SET RECORD FOR JAGUAR SIGHTINGS.
Reef and Rainforest clients have just set a record for the number of jaguars seen at the Jaguar Research Centre in Brazil's Pantanal. Please see the amazing photos by Andy Brentnall plus the full report from his guide Alyson:
“We had an incredible 13 sightings of Jaguars, which turned out to be nine different Jaguars. Two of the 9 were new for the Jaguar Research Centre — so the guest who first saw them will have naming rights, as is the custom at JRC. Names to be determined.
Jaguars whom we know already by their unique face spot patterns appear in quotation marks here.
“Wilson” was seen 4 times, each time in a different place on the Cuiabá River, the Three Brothers River (on which sits the tented camp), and on the Black Channel, which is 500 m in a straight line from the camp. We had a total of 4 hours of observation of Wilson.
“Jack” was seen twice, for a total of 30 min of observation. This was on the Cuiabá River and on the Three Brothers.
A new, young female Jaguar (new for our dossier of Jaguar faces) was seen for 2:30 (150 minutes) on the Cuiabá River near the mouth of the Three Brothers River about 5 min by boat from our camp. She was busy trying to hunt small caimans, and she managed to catch and eat two while our guests watched in delight.
“Geoff”, a 2.5-year-old male who is son of Madame Butterfly, was seen for 20 minutes lying down resting on the 350-acre island in the middle of the Three Brothers River, 10 minutes by boat from our camp.
“Silvia”, who appears to be pregnant, was seen for 30 minutes lying down resting on that same island.
“Paris” and her daughter (the daughter is new and requires a name) were seen lying down resting for 2:30 (150 minutes) at the headwaters of the St. Peter’s Blackwater Channel, 13 min by boat from our camp.
“Estela”, the 2.5-year-old daughter of Madame Butterfly and sister of Geoff (see above), was seen hunting for 40 minutes at the headwaters of the Black Channel, 1200 m from our JRC tented camp.
In total, this couple of guests enjoyed 11 hours of Jaguar observation during their three-night stay."
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ORANG-UTAN ENCOUNTERS IN BORNEO
See below another excellent collection of photos from Andy Brentnall who has just returned from Borneo. As well as a tussle with an orang-utan at Sepilok, Andy had wonderful views of ‘King’ a large male orang-utan in the Danum Valley.
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TWELVE JAGUARS, PLUS AN OCELOT
Amazing cat sightings in Brazil:
“Well, you did ‘what it said on the tin’ – we searched for Jaguars and found an Ocelot!! ….. oh yes and 12 sightings of Jaguar!!!
First sighting was Wilson …. before we had even got to the boat and tents. We spent the afternoon watching him sunning himself on the bank. Charlie .. the wonderful host ..brought rice, beans, chicken and salad out to us on the boat – that’s service! And we got to the boat and tents at dusk.
We had 5 sightings on the second day. Could it get any better?
Oh yes – third day, we had just got over seeing Paris with her grown up cub when Bobolita turned up with a cub (no more than 2 months old according to the guides) and they proceeded to swim across the creek in front of us and come up the bank .. I have the snaps to prove it! None of the guides or the naturalist had seen a cub so young ..
Charlie was miffed we’d seen something he hadn’t!! With an afternoon sighting of Wilson again ..swimming across the river and then sunning himself that was another 5 sightings! We added a last sighting on the transfer back to the van on the fourth morning. 8 different Jaguars – 12 sightings – we hope we haven’t burnt up all your luck! Add in a night view in the camp, by flash light of Night Monkeys – again not normally seen – what a trip.
Back at Santa Teresa, we went on a night drive with flash light and found an Ocelot that walked along in the undergrowth but in view as we backed the vehicle for about two minutes!!!" Mr MW - Bedfordshire
KINGDOM OF THE JAGUAR REPORT - Bernie Reichert
A beautiful selection of photos and feedback from a recent Quest for the Jaguar Group Tour
"We arrived at the Jaguar Research Centre after a one hour boat ride along the Cuiaba and Three Brothers rivers from the "end of the road". In this remote location we were accomodated in large tents with simple facilities - no electric light until evening so a head torch was essential for early morning starts! I learnt that some time ago 2 jaguars had been observed mating in front of the tent which I occupied on this trip, and wandering about unaccompanied after dark was not a good idea!
On the afternoon after arrival we were cruising along the river in search of jaguars and other wildlife when we received a radio report that a jaguar had been spotted some distance away. The boatman quickly headed for the reported location while we hoped that this would be an at-least-one-hour jaguar whom we could still see when we got there. As it turned out, the individual concerned was Wilson, the alpha male in the area, and he was definitely a several-hour jaguar.
He lay there in the grass at the top of the riverbank looking at us, yawned, peered down the bank, turned around, cleaned himself like a pussy cat and twitched his skin to dislodge biting insects. He really was a massive beast and quite unperturbed by us. We watched for a long time (you tend to lose your sense of time in such circumstances!) until the light was failing. We saw Wilson again the next day in another place, but then he was well hidden in the undergrowth. A great deal of other wildlife abounded in the area and there was never a dull moment, making the Jaguar Research Centre a great adventure overall."
MADAGASCAR MON AMOUR - Entertaining travels on the Big Red Island
This September Ruth and I have had the trip of a lifetime, organised by a company called Reef and Rainforest, when we visited Madagascar for the first time. The whole experience could not have been more expertly arranged and our holiday was completely free of any niggles with accommodation or travel under the control of the company.
We arrived at the capital Antanarivo and recognised our guide immediately from the beaming smile in the picture we had received. Kenny was a delight throughout the many days we spent with him, answering the questions no doubt asked so many times by tourists before us with infinite patience and good grace. There were only 6 people in the party so we had the benefit of a great deal of his individual attention. He is charm itself and also blessed with the unusual gift of knowing when not to talk about a scene; to let it speak for itself.
The hotels we stayed in all had particular good points, whether it was the profusion of wildlife, the food, the pool or the sheer luxury at Anjajavy and we had the right clothing to cope with rainforest conditions on a couple of nocturnal walks. At Anjajavy we were overwhelmed to find the villa was fronted by beach and about 20 yards from the Indian Ocean, which was a soothing background to sleep with the faint susurration of the waves at night lulling us into the arms of Morpheus. The bougainvillea blossoms on the beds and in the rooms were a thoughtful, pretty touch. Tea at The Oasis garden at 5.00pm daily was accompanied by a plethora of animals and we had the best experience ever when wandering down the access road to the hotel at that time to find a family of Coqurel’s Sifaka lemurs had decided to use it to get to afternoon tea. Mum had a teenager on her back and did the “dance” encumbered by the youngster on her back. This involves a skipping movement with arms held high in the manner of an old fashioned dance troupe leaving the stage one by one and is very entertaining. She then proceeded to pose purposefully for the photo opportunity we wanted, giving way to the male who followed her to do exactly the same. Marvellous! When we got to the tea venue the family were already there, with 10 or so brown lemurs in a line gazing into the shrubbery with all their tails held in exactly the same way – unbelievably comic.
I don’t want anyone to get the idea that the country is the lush green they may imagine. Life is hard for the inhabitants and conditions very poor. We travelled past wooden shacks with great gaps in the planking, villages with huge numbers of children and chickens in the dust and market sellers trying to make a living from selling a heap of peanuts, for example. People have to walk miles to work and to get water. The cattle, Zebus, are kept as status symbols for ceremonies and little used for milk or meat.
As visitors we were lucky enough to be able to see and enjoy the famed wildlife, which was around us in abundance. Everyday I kept a list of the new creatures we had seen, omitting repetitions and even on the last day there were 8 new entries! One of the highlights was the massive lemur fossil in a cave. We’ve been told there are only 10 of these on the island, so it was a bit disconcerting for the guide to toss the separate finger bones for us to catch! Luckily we were all uncackhanded enough to catch them successfully. This particular fossil showed that there had been giant lemurs almost the size of Man.
We were thrilled to get a very good view of the rare Madagascan Fish Eagle with babies. In fact we had 3 separate sightings of this bird and there are thought to be only around 200 of this endangered species, among the world’s rarest raptors, left.
One favourite was the Leaf-Tailed Gecko, a master of concealment, using camouflage to fool the eye. One was pointed out by a guide at a reserve on the trunk of a tree by a road and it looked so much like lichen that one member of our party still couldn’t discern it from a distance of 2 inches! This does not bode well for identification on my photographs! This guide, Etienne, took my camera and shot some marvellous pictures of a Brown lemur for me. We also experienced the earshattering and eerie cries of the Indri as well as getting some good views of several animals. I’ve always wanted to experience that sound, but it’s not one I’d like to encounter at night. We had a closer meeting with a Tree Boa, doing a fine impression of a tyre with worn out tread resting in the crook of a branch totally motionless and nearly stepped on an unrealistically slim Pencil Snake.
There is a popular misconception that Chameleons change colour to blend in with surroundings and we saw quite a few in the wild which certainly matched, but one in a small reptile zoo gave the theory that emotion causes the change more credence as it was a bright shade of shocking pink and stood out on the branch like a sore thumb: we were told it was feeling upset!
One of the Ring Tailed Lemurs at the Berenty reserve cheekily shouldered his way into the accommodation and made off with my banana, proceeding to sit in a tree nearby and scoff the lot, making sure none of his mates was aware of the prize. There was a thump later as another one fell from a tree to the ground, standing dazed for a time and eventually wandering off with a tail which certainly showed signs of the accident, bearing a new kink.
Until recently I’ve been considering doing a tandem parachute jump next year, but one of the internal flights was in a 4 seater plane, which cured me of the idea. It was just that the vision of leaping off at the height we were at became more of a reality. The flight itself was a great experience as we bumbled along speedily like a titchy bug bustling self-importantly in a space vast enough to engulf it for all eternity.
I can’t give a description of all the wonderful creatures we encountered and haven’t even touched on the plant life, with the Spiny Forest, orchids, Boababs, Ebony and Rosewood trees, but I hope this account gives a flavour of the new and strange world we encountered.
Ms SB - STOKE ON TRENT
PANTANAL JAGUAR EPIC ENCOUNTER
Two of Reef and Rainforest’s clients were extremely fortunate recently in witnessing a classic encounter between two of the Pantanal’s largest predators, the jaguar and giant otter, while on an outing from the unique Jaguar Research Centre in Brazil. Our clients usually do see giant otter and jaguar when at JRC, but not normally together and with such drama. The amazing story, as related by one of the JRC’s guides to his boss, is as follows:
"The True Story of "Wilson", the male Jaguar, and the Giant Otters.
During the morning of Friday the 12th of June 2009, we had to leave the camp in a hurry at 7:30 am because our boatman Nego saw the male Jaguar "Wilson" lying on a sand beach one bend downstream from the tented camp.
Once we got there, he stood on the beach and suddenly, when he noticed us in a small Jaguar observation boat, he stood up, looked at us and roared and then went behind some bushes. We could still see him, and he kept watching us. He did not appear calm and placid as he usually does (since June 2007, we have seen him more than 80 times on rivers near the camp). He may have been hungry that day.
We waited for a while and there was no change. We decided to go a bit upstream to wait for him to come out into the open again. We stayed observing at the other side of the river, holding a tree branch to stay anchored on the opposite riverbank. Suddenly we heard a group of Giant Otters approaching us from upstream, swimming downstream in the direction of Wilson. It was a group of three otters, making sounds and communicating at us. The otters had not seen Wilson, and when they approached his sand beach, Wilson burst out of the bushes in a fraction of a second, jumping into the water to try to catch one of the otters.
His attack failed, however, so he so he swam back to the beach and walked up onto the beach. To our surprise, the otters did not flee, but rather stayed in the water right in front of Wilson, provoking him over and over again for 20-30 minutes. Finally the otters tired of this game and swam away.
Even after the otters finally disappeared downriver, Wilson remained on the beach a while longer and then slipped behind some bushes. We did not see him again until late that same afternoon, this time on the banks of the Cuiabá River.
The [Reef and Rainforest] guests were very excited by this great show and thanked the otters for the amazing spectacle.
Talk to you soon,
See our tour incorporating the Jaguar Research Centre.
The remarkable picture capturing the event (you can just make out our clients in a boat in the centre of the picture):
REPORT ON AN ASTOUNDING VENEZUELA VISIT IN MARCH, 2009 - Mr AW, Ireland
We returned to Venezuela a year after our first visit. Not much had changed although the government had announced on January 12th that it intended to nationalise the Hato Pinero ranch and wildlife reserve, where we had scheduled a seven day stay. We were re-assured later by an official from the Ministry of Environment that the takeover may be deferred for 2 – 3 years. In any event, it is ok to book in there and, even if acquired by the government, hopefully the eco-tourist operation may continue, as it has done at one of the other nationalised Hatos, El Cedral.
We spent 7 days at Hato Pinero, a ranch and wildlife reserve covering 200,000 acres, located between two rivers and a line of small hills in Cojedes State The ranch has an idyllic composition, 125, 000 acres of forest, with the balance mainly sabana (savannah) grasslands. Here graze over 8,000 head of cattle, many of them Pinero Roja, bred especially for the testing conditions in Los Llanos. Here there are only two seasons, wet and dry, and both reach tropical extremes, flooded land for months in one season, hard ground and burnt grass at the end of the other. Yet it is naturally beautiful in both seasons which support over 2000 varieties of plants including thousands of majestic trees. It is randomly littered with a host of wild animals and flights of rare and exotic birds.
It is truly a small piece of paradise and, if heaven is not as good, God please let me ascend to Hato Pinero…..with my partner and my dogs.
The cattle operation is organised around a number of Fundacion, outstations, with a foreman in charge of each. Each Fundacion is responsible for the cattle in their area, keeping track of them, moving them to fresh grazing, rescuing some from the flooded land. But our gaze was not often distracted by cattle. We were focused on seeking out the wild cats that co-exist with the livestock at Hato Pinero. Here can be found puma and jaguar, the mega-fauna of the Americas, as well as their smaller, yet equally elegant cousins, the ocelot and the margay. We had worked hard to make our luck the previous year and had a breathtaking encounter with a big male jaguar. Once again we were out every day, before first light to well after dark, in pursuit of our quarry. We found lots of tantalising signs: pug marks, scat and the remains of kills, including a giant anteater that had been ripped apart in the jaws of a jaguar, pound for pound the most powerful jaws in the cat world.
Our morning and evening drives paid off first with ocelot sightings, two by day, almost mistaken in the distance for sabana foxes, until we focussed the binos on the serried markings. We got closer by night for some good pictures with a new, power flash, watching as two ocelots hunted and swallowed lizards, and as three others entertained us near a pond. Twice we spooked a tapir, the second time it was more spooked than us. After we had located it in the spotlight, it withdrew into the forest. Then, uncharacteristically for a naturally shy mammal, it came back out again, directly approaching our truck and crossing the road behind us. Some excellent shots of tapir ensued before the reason for its reappearance manifested itself. It had sensed the presence of a jaguar which, we reflected later, must have been stalking it. Alerted by our guide, we twisted round, barely in time, to catch a tantalising glimpse of flashing eyes and a shadowy outline, before it morphed into the foliage. Next night, we got another small but gorgeous reward, sighting a margay, unusually in the sabana grass, as they more normally keep to the trees.
Between searching for signs and sightings of the cats, we enjoyed a plentiful supply of other mammals and birds, as well as many glorious blossoms. Capybaras (can these cuties really be rodents?) abound, as do deer and sabana fox. We had good sightings of collared and white lipped peccary and enjoyed the noise of their frenzied charges through forest leaves and debris. The ponds were alive with the eyes of small caiman and the swirl of busy turtles (not sharing the same ponds!). A startled agouti crossed our path as we stopped to examine more tracks and, unusually, we caught a tinamu in the open. We stopped and gawped at stately jabiru stork, small flights of blindingly scarlet ibis and excitable, punk feathered, leaf eating, gossiping hoatzins. My goodness, Hato Pinero could convert even us hardened mammal lovers to birders….at least part- time!
Hato Pinero forms part of our Natural History Highlights Of Venezuela tour.
AND A CENTRAL AMERICAN FOOTNOTE…
I combined my visit to Venezuela with a return to Chan Chich in Belize. We had two distant, night sightings of puma and the week we were there staff members saw at closer range in daytime, four puma and 1 jaguar. Chan Chich remains an amazing lodge and reserve and the staff were most helpful in our endeavours. As it was end of seasons we were able to secure private drives morning and evening.
Chan Chich forms part of our Belize Natural History Highlights tour.
Daphne Barbieri is an award winning amateur film maker and we are very privileged to be given a sneak preview of her latest film hunting jaguars in Brazil’s Pantanal:
Allan and Amanda Pitkin have put together a wonderful web account of their recent trip to Peru. Please click on the image below to see their website devoted to this.
Ian Silvester has produced a wonderful collection of images from his recent trip to Brazil. The site also has some lovely shots of steam trains plus wildlife from around the globe. Please click on the image below to visit the site.
Two more superb short films by Daphne Barbieri, this time for Madagascar: