Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Fish and Birds of the Pantanal

We recently returned from a month in Brazil. With life-long passions for wildlife and fish and birds in particular, a visit to the Pantanal has always been on our wish list.  From Sao Paulo, a couple of hours flying west to Campo Grande, then two hours driving further west towards the Bolivian border, then the real journey started ! Fifty kilometres down a muddy track (took a long time as we kept stopping to look at birds, racoons, anteaters etc) to Pousada Aguape where we were staying for the next 10 days. The ranch breeds superb horses, as well as cattle, and during our stay we saw many fine feats of horsemanship, involving catching and breaking-in young horses.

Rancheros are full of skills, as in addition to being fine horsemen, they double as fishing guides, boatmen, birding guides, carvers at the weekly churrasco (ox-roast) and drivers of the various vehicles on the ranch.

We fished the River Aquiduane.  Pirhanas are abundant and we rapidly developed techniques to avoid hooking them.  We caught many species of catfish. The wildlife of the Pantanal was interesting, capybara, marsh deer, giant anteater, giant otter, crab-eating foxes and caiman. We went out one night to try to bait an ocelot with piranha carcasses. No ocelot, but we saw a puma instead ! Also, late one evening, just before we packed up fishing, we heard a jaguar roar.

The bird life was well up to expectations – Greater Rhea, Seriema, Toco Toucan, and Hyacinth Macaw were obvious and spectacular, and a host of smaller birds kept us busy with identification. The Pantanal itself has that aura of spaciousness that we so love in wild places and we were sorry to come to the end of our stay.

Dave and Norma Park
Sussex UK

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