Apex predator of the Americas, the jaguar is the largest cat on the continent. South American jaguars thrive in Brazil’s Pantanal region, a vast tropical wetland region that is a biodiversity hotspot. More or less wiped out from most of the continent due to habitat loss, the jaguar thrives in this habitat along with numerous other animals. This is one of the few remaining places in the world to spot them. The jaguars of this region are adapted to a fairly broad diet that challenges their skills in many ways. Uniquely, in the protected South Pantanal region around the Cuiaba River jaguars hunt caimans, a relative of the crocodile. Their ability to swim, their strength, powerful jaws and sharp teeth are all called into use to hunt these creatures. Besides caimans jaguars of the Pantanal regularly capybara, the area’s huge river rodents, as well as marsh deer, giant anteaters, and wild hogs among other animals and fish.
In order to track jaguars I travelled from our hotel in Porto Jofre in a motorboat along the length of three rivers, to one of the largest protected areas in the Pantanal. This area has a high density of jaguars, caimans as well as capybara. We spent 10-12 hours each day on the river searching for jaguars, caimans and other mammals.